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Originai. Advertisements 

The Author’s Apology 

Account of the Author 

Address to the Public 

BOOK 1. 


Chap. I. — Description of the World . 

Chap. II. — Cosmogony, or Creation of the 
World ; with a multitude of excellent 
theories, by which the creation of a world is 
shown to be no such difficult matter as com- 
mon folk would imagine .... 

Chap. III. — How that famous navigator, Noah, 
was shamefully nicknamed ; and how he 
committed an unpardonable oversight in not 



having four sons ; with the great trouble of 
philosophers caused thereby, and the dis- 
covery of America 6i 

Chap. IV. — Showing the great difficulty philoso- 
phers have had in peopling America ; and 
how the Aborigines came to be begotten by 
accident — to the great relief and satisfaction 
of the Author 72 

Chap. V. — In which the Author puts a mighty 
question to the rout, by the assistance of the 
Man in the Moon — which not only delivers 
thousands of people from great embarrass- 
ment, but likewise concludes this introduc- 
tory book . 84 



Chap. T. — In which are contained divers reasons 
why a man should not w^rite in a hurry ; also, 
of Master Hendrick Hudson, his discovery 
of a strange country, — and how he was mag- 
nificently rewarded by the munificence of 
their High Mightinesses . . . .113 

Chap. H. — Containing an account of a mighty 
Ark which floated, under the protection of 
St. Nicholas, from Holland to Gibbet Island, 

— the descent of the strange animals there- 
from, — a great victory, and a description of 
the ancient village of Communipaw . . 131 


Chap. III. — In which is set forth the true art of 
making a bargain — together with the mirac- 
ulous escape of a great metropolis in a fog — 
and the biography of certain heroes of Com- 

Chap. IV. — How the heroes of Commuuipaw 
voyaged to Hell-gate, and how they were 
received there ...... 

Chap. V. — How the heroes of Communipaw 
returned somewhat wiser than they went — 
and how the sage Oloflfe dreamed a dream — 
and the dream that he dreamed . 

Chap. VI. — Containing an attempt at etymology 
— and of the founding of the great city of 
New Amsterdam ...... 

Chap. VH. — How the people of Pavonia migrated 
from Communipaw to the island of Manna- 
hata — and how Oloffe the Dreamer proved 
himself a great laud-speculator 

Chap. VIH. — Of the founding and naming of the 
new city ; of the City Arms ; and of the dire- 
ful feud between Ten Breeches and Tough 
Breeches ....... 

Chap. IX. — How the city of New Amsterdam 
waxed great under the protection of St. 
Nicholas and the absence of laws and statutes 
— How Oloffe the Dreamer begun to dream of 
an extension of empire, and of the effect of 
his dreams ....... 



Chap. I. — Of the renowned Wouter Van Twiller, 
his unparalleled virtues — as likewise his 
unutterable wisdom in the law-case of Wandle 
Schoonhoven and Barent Bleecker — and the 
great admiration of the public thereat . . 217 

Chap. II. — Containingsome account of the grand 
council of New Amsterdam, as also divers 
especial good philosophical reasons why an 
alderman should be fat — with other particu- 
lars touching the state of the province . 232 

Chap. III. — How the town of New Amsterdam 
arose out of mud, and came to be marvel- 
lously polished and polite — together with a 
picture of the manners of our great-great- 
grandfathers 248 

Chap. IV. — Containing further particulars of the 
Golden Age, and what constituted a fine lady 
and gentleman in the days of Walter the 
Doubter ........ 

Chap. V. — Of the founding of Fort Aurania — Of 
the mysteries of the Hudson — Of the arrival 
of thePatroon Killian Van Rensellaer ; his 
lordly descent upon the earth, and his intro- 
duction of club-law’ ..... 

Chap. VI. — In which the reader is beguiled into 
a delectable walk, which ends very differently 
from what it commenced .... 277 





Chap. VII. — Faithfully describing the ingenious 
people of Connecticut and thereabouts — 
showing, moreover, the true meaning of 
liberty of conscience, and a curious device, 
among these sturdy barbarians, to keep up a 
harmony of intercourse, and promote popu- 
lation 286 

Chap. VIII. — How these singular barbarians 
turned out to be notorious squatters — How 
they built air-castles, and attempted to 
initiate the Nederlanders into the mystery 
of bundling 295 

Chap. IX. — How the Fort Goed Hoop was 
fearfully beleaguered — How the renowned 
Wouter fell into a profound doubt, and how 
he finally evaporated 304 



Chap. I. — Showing the nature of history in 
general ; — containing furthermore the uni- 
versal acquirements of William the Testy, 
and how a man may learn so much as to 
render himself good for nothing . . . 317 

Chap. H. — How William the Testy undertook to 
conquer by proclamation — How he was a 
great man abroad, but a little man in his 
own house ....... 326 


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“and anon they vSEEMED sinking into yawn- 
ing guefs” 











SET eight-minded hearers in a roar 



here woued he smoke his pipe of a suetry 






























From the Evening Post of October 26, i8og. 

Left his lodgings, some time since, and has not since 
been heard of, a small elderly gentleman, dressed in 
an old black coat and cocked hat, by the name of 
Knickerbocker. As there are some reasons for believ- 
ing he is not entirely in his right mind, and as great 
anxiety is entertained about him, any information 
concerning him left either at the Columbian Hotel, 
Mulberry Street, or at the office of this paper, will be 
thankfully received. 

P. S. — Printers of newspapers would be aiding the 
cause of humanity in giving an insertion to the above. 

From the same, November 6, i8og. 

To the Editor of the Evening Post : 

Sir, — Having read in your paper of the 26th Octo- 
ber last, a paragraph respecting an old gentleman by 



the name of Knickerbocker, who was missing from his 
lodgings ; if it would be any relief to his friends, or 
furnish them with any clue to discover where he is, 
you may inform them that a person answering the 
description given, was seen by the passengers of the 
Albany stage, early in the morning, about four or five 
weeks since, resting himself by the side of the road, a 
little above King’s Bridge. He had in his hand a 
small bundle, tied in a red bandana handkerchief ; he 
appeared to be travelling northward, and was very 
much fatigued and exhausted. 


From the same, November i6, i8og. 

To the Editor of the Evening Post : 

Sir, — You have been good enough to publish in 
your paper a paragraph about Mr. Diedrich Knicker- 
bocker, who was missing so strangely some time since. 
Nothing satisfactory has been heard of the old gentle- 
man since ; but a very curious kind of a writte7t book 
has been found in his room, in his own handwriting. 
Now I wish you to notice him, if he is still alive, that 
if he does not return and pay off his bill for boarding 
and lodging, I shall have to dispose of his book to 
satisfy me for the same. 

I am, sir, your humble servant, 


Landlord of the Independent Columbian Hotel, 

Mulberry Street. 


From the same, November 28, i8og. 

Inskeep & Bradford have in press, and will shortly 


In two volumes, duodecimo. Price Three Dollars. 

Containing an account of its discovery and settlement, 
with its internal policies, manners, customs, wars, 
&c., &c., under the Dutch government, furnishing 
many curious and interesting particulars never before 
published, and which are gathered from various 
manuscript and other authenticated sources, the 
whole being interspersed with philosophical specula- 
tions and moral precepts. 

This work was found in the chamber of Mr. Diedrich 
Knickerbocker, the old gentleman whose sudden and 
mysterious disappearance has been noticed. It is 
published in order to discharge certain debts he has 
left behind. 



Itbe autbor’s apology 

B " HE following work, in which, 
at the outset, nothing more 
was contemplated than a 
temporary jeu d' esprit^ was 
' commenced in company with 

my brother, the late Peter 

Irving, Ksq. Our idea was, to parody a small 
handbook which had recently appeared, en- 
titled A Picture of New York. Like that, our 
work was to begin with an historical sketch ; 
to be followed by notices of the customs, 
manners, and institutions of the city ; writ- 


' , i / / 

^ V A 

B 1bi6tors of IWcw lorl? 

ten in a serio-comic vein, and treating local 
errors, follies, and abuses with good-humored 

To burlesque the pedantic lore displayed in 
certain American works, our historical sketch 
was to commence with the creation of the 
world ; and we laid all kinds of works under 
contribution for trite citations, relevant, or 
irrelevant, to give it the proper air of learned 
research. Before this crude mass of mock 
erudition could be digested into form, my 
brother departed for Europe, and I was left 
to prosecute the enterprise alone. 

I now altered the plan of the work. Dis- 
carding all idea of a parody on the Picture 
of New York I determined that what had 
been originally intended as an introductory 
sketch, should comprise the whole work, and 
form a comic history of the city. I accord- 
ingly moulded the mass of citations and dis- 
quisitions into introductory chapters, forming 
the first book ; but it soon became evident to 
me, that, like Robinson Crusoe with his boat, 
I had begun on too large a scale, and that, to 
launch my history successfully, I must reduce 
its proportions. I accordingly resolved to con- 
fine it to the period of the Dutch domination, 
which, in its rise, progress, and decline, pre- 
sented that unity of subject required by classic 

II w 

rule. It was a period, also, at that time al- 
most a ^erra incognita in history. In fact, I 
was surprised to find how few of my fellow- 
citizens were aware that New York had ever 
been called New Amsterdam, or had heard of 
the names of its early Dutch governors, or 
cared a straw about their ancient Dutch pro- 

This, then, broke upon me as the poetic age 
of our city ; poetic from its very obscurity ; and 
open, like the early and obscure days of an- 
cient Rome, to all the embellishments of heroic 
fiction. I hailed my native city, as fortunate 
above all other American cities, in having an 
antiquity thus extending back into the regions 
of doubt and fable ; neither did I conceive I 
was committing any grievous historical sin in 
helping out the few facts I could collect in this 
remote and forgotten region with figments of 
my own brain, or in giving characteristic attri- 
butes to the few names connected with it which 
I might dig up from oblivion. 

In this, doubtless, I reasoned like a young 
and inexperienced writer, besotted with his 
own fancies ; and my presumptuous trespasses 
into this sacred, though neglected region of 
history have met with deserved rebuke from 
men of soberer minds. It is too late, however, 
to recall the shaft thus rashly launched. To 

/( i' 

^Tbe Butbor's Bpolog^ 

In this I have reason to believe I have in 
some measure succeeded. Before the appear- 
ance of my work the popular traditions of our 
city were unrecorded ; the peculiar and racy 
customs and usages derived from our Dutch 
progenitors were unnoticed or regarded with 
indifference, or adverted to with a sneer. Now 
they form a convivial currency, and are brought 
forward on all occasions ; they link our whole 
community together in good-humor and good 
fellowship ; they are the rallying points of 
home feeling, the seasoning of our civic festivi- 
ties, the staple of local tales and local pleasant- 
ries, and are so harped upon by our writers of 
popular fiction, that I find myself almost 
crowded off the legendary ground which I 
was the first to explore, by the host who have 
followed in my footsteps. 

I dwell on this head, because, at the first 
appearance of my work, its aim and drift were 
misapprehended by some of the descendants of 
the Dutch worthies ; and because I understand 
that now and then one may still be found to 
regard it with a captious eye. The far greater 
part, however, I have reason to flatter mj^self, 
receive my good-humored picturings in the 
same temper in which they were executed ; 
and when I find, after a lapse of nearly forty 
years, this hap-hazard production of my youth 

B 1bl6tor^ ot IRew l^ork 

still cherished among them, — when I find its 
very name become a “household word” and 
used to give the home stamp to everything 
recommended for popular acceptation, such as 
Knickerbocker societies, Knickerbocker insur- 
ance companies, Knickerbocker steamboats, 
Knickerbocker omnibuses, Knickerbocker 
bread, and Knickerbocker ice, — and when I 
find New Yorkers of Dutch descent priding 
themselves upon being “genuine Knicker- 
bockers,” — I please myself with the persuasion 
that I have struck the right chord ; that my 
dealings with the good old Dutch times, and 
the customs and usages derived from them, are 
in harmony with the feelings and humors of 
my townsmen ; that I have opened a vein of 
pleasant associations and quaint characteristics 
peculiar to my native place, and which its in- 
habitants will not willingly suffer to pass away ; 
and that, though other histories of New York 
may appear of higher claims to learned accep- 
tation, and may take their dignified and 
appropriate rank in the family library, Knick- 
erbocker’s history will still be received with 
good-humored indulgence, and be thumbed 
and chuckled over by the family fireside. 

W. I. 



Hccount of tbe Hutbor 

T was some time, if I 
recollect right, in the 
early part of the au- 
tumn of 1808, that a 
stranger applied for 
lodgings at the Inde- 
pendent Columbian Ho- 
tel in Mulberry Street, 
of which I am landlord. 
He was a small, brisk-looking old gentleman, 
dressed in a rusty black coat, a pair of olive 
velvet breeches, and a small cocked hat. He 
had a few gray hairs plaited and clubbed 
behind, and his beard seemed to be of some 
eight-and- forty hours’ growth. The only piece 
of finery which he bore about him was a 
bright pair of square silver shoe-buckles ; and 
all his baggage was contained in a pair of 
saddle-bags, which he carried under his arm. 
His whole appearance was something out of 
the common run ; and my wife, who is a very 

SetK HarvdaS'tif . 


3 " 

B 1f3i6toi-^ of Bevv lork 

shrewd body, at once set him down for some 
eminent country schoolmaster. 

As the Independent Columbian Hotel is a 
very small house, I w^as a little puzzled at first 
wdiere to put him ; but my wife, who seemed 
taken with his looks, w^ould needs put him in 
her best chamber, which is genteelly set off 
with the profiles of the whole family, done in 
black, b}" those two great painter^^, Jarvis and 
Wood ; and commands a very pleasant view of 
the new grounds on the Collect, together with 
the rear of the Poor-House and Bridewell, and 
a full front of the Hospital ; so that it is the 
cheerfulest room in the whole house. 

During the whole time that he stayed with 
us, we found him a very worth}- good sort 
of an old gentleman, though a little queer 
in his ways. He would keep in his room for 
days together, and if an}- of the children 
cried, or made a noise about his door, he 
would bounce out in a great passion, with 
his hands full of papers, and say something 
about “deranging his ideas”; which made 
my wife believe sometimes that he was not 
altogether co^npos. Indeed, there was more 
than one reason to make her think so, for his 
room was always covered with scraps of paper 
and old mouldy books, lying about at sixes 
and sevens, which he would never let anybody 





lo B 1bi6tor^ of IRew l^ork 

touch ; for he said he had laid them all away 
in their proper places, so that he might know 
where to find them ; though for that matter, 
he was half his time worrying about the house 
in search of some book or writing which he 
had carefully put out of the way. I shall 
never forget what a pother he once made, 
because my wife cleaned out his room w^hen 
his back was turned, and put everything to 
rights ; for he swore he would never be able 
to get his papers in order again in a twelve- 
month. Upon this, my wife ventured to ask 
him what he did with so many books and 
papers ; and he told her that he was ‘ ‘ seek- 
ing for immortality ’ ’ ; which made her think 
more than ever that the poor old gentleman’s 
head was a little cracked. 

He was a very inquisitive body, and when 
not in his room, was continually poking about 
town, hearing all the news, and prying into 
everything that was goin^ on : this was par- 
ticularly the case about election time, when he 
did nothing but bustle about from poll to poll, 
attending all ward meetings, and committee 
rooms ; though I could never find that he 
took part with either side of the question. 
On the contrary, he would come home and rail 
at both parties with great wrath, — and plainly 
proved one day, to the satisfaction of my wife 


Bccount of tbe Butbor 



and three old ladies who were drinking tea 
with her, that the two parties were like two 
rogues, each tugging at a skirt of the nation ; 
and that in the end they would tear the very 
coat off its back, and expose its nakedness. 
Indeed, he was an oracle among the neigh- 
bors, who would collect around him to hear 
him talk of an afternoon, as he smoked his 
pipe on the bench before the door ; and I 
really believe he would have brought over the 
whole neighborhood to his own side of the 
question, if they could ever have found out 
what it was. 

He was very much given to argue, or, as 
he called it, philosophize^ about the most tri- 
fling matter ; and to do him justice, I never 
knew anybody that was a match for him, 
except it was a grave-looking old gentleman 
who called now and then to see him, and often 
posed him in an argument. But this is noth- 
ing surprising, as I have since found out this 
stranger is the city librarian ; who, of course, 
must be a man of great learning : and I have 
my doubts if he had not some hand in the 
following history. 

As our lodger had been a long time with us, 
and we had never received any pay, m}^ wife 
began to be somewhat uneasy, and curious to 
find out who and what he was. She accord- 


ingly made bold to put the question to his 
friend, the librarian, who replied in his dry 
way that he was one of the literati^ which she 
supposed to mean some new party in politics. 
I scorn to push a lodger for his pay ; so I let 
da}^ after day pass on without dunning the old 
gentleman for a farthing : but my wife, who 
always takes these matters on herself, and is, 
as I said, a shrewd kind of a woman, at last got 
out of patience, and hinted that she thought 
it high time ‘ ‘ some people should have a 
sight of some people’s money.” To which 
the old gentleman replied, in a might}^ touchy 
manner, that she need not make herself un- 
easy, for that he had a treasure there (point- 
ing to his saddle-bags) worth her whole house 
put together. This was the only answer we 
could ever get from him ; and as my wife, by 
some of those odd ways in which women find 
out everjdhing, learnt that he was of very 
great connections, being related to the Knick- 
erbockers of Schaghtikoke, and cousin-german 
to the congressman of that name, she did not 
like to treat him uncivilly. What is more, she 
even offered, merely by way of making things 
easy, to let him live scot-free, if he would 
teach the children their letters ; and to try her 
best and get her neighbors to send their chil- 
dren also : but the old gentleman took it in 

Bccount of tbe Butbor 


such dudgeon, and seemed so affronted at j 
being taken for a schoolmaster, that she never 
dared to speak on the subject again. i 

About two months ago he went out of a 
morning, with a bundle in his hand, and has 
never been heard of since. All kinds of in- 
quiries were made after him, but in vain. I 
wrote to his relations at Schaghtikoke, but they 
sent for answer, that he had not been there 
since the year before last, when he had a great 
dispute with the congressman about politics, 
and left the place in a huff, and they had nei- 
ther heard nor seen anything of him from that 
time to this. I must own I felt very much 
worried about the poor old gentleman, for I 
thought something bad must have happened 
to him, that he should be missing so long, and I 
never return to pay his bill. I therefore ad- 
vertised him in the newspapers, and though my 
melancholy advertisement was published by 
several humane printers, yet I have never been 
able to learn anything satisfactory about him. 

My wife now said it was high time to take 
care of ourselves, and see if he had left any- 
thing behind in his room, that would pay us 
for his board and lodging. We found nothing, I 
however, but some old books and musty writ- 
ings, and his saddle-bags ; which, being opened 
in the presence of the librarian, contained only 

14 B Ibistor^ of IRcw HJork 

a few articles of worn-out clothes, and a large 
bundle of blotted paper. On looking over this, 
the librarian told us he had no doubt it was the 
treasure which the old gentleman had spoken 
about ; as it proved to be a most excellent and 
faithful History of Nfw York, which he 
advised us by all means to publish, assuring us 
that it would be so eagerly bought up by a dis- 
cerning public, that he had no doubt it would 
be enough to pay our arrears ten times over. 
Upon this we got a very learned schoolmaster, 
who teaches our children, to prepare it for the 
press, which he accordingly has done ; and has, 
moreover, added to it a number of valuable 
notes of his own. 

This, therefore, is a true statement of my 
reasons for having this work printed, without 
waiting for the consent of the author ; and I 
here declare, that, if he ever returns (though 
I much fear some unhappy accident has befallen 
him) I stand ready to account with him like a 
true and honest man. Which is all at present. 

From the public’s humble servant, 

Sfth Handasidf. 

Independent Columbian Hotel, New York. 

The foregoing account of the author was pre- 
fixed to the first edition of this work. Shortly 
after its publication, a letter was received from 

him, by Mr. Handaside, dated at a small Dutch 
village on the banks of the Hudson, whither he 
had travelled for the purpose of inspecting cer- 
tain ancient records. As this was one of those 
few and happy villages into which newspapers 
never find their way, it is not a matter of sur- 
prise that Mr. Knickerbocker should never 
have seen the numerous advertisements that 
were made concerning him, and that he should 
learn of the publication of his history by mere 

He expressed much concern at its prema- 
ture appearance, as thereby he was prevented 
from making several important corrections and 
alterations, as well as from profiting by many 
curious hints which he had collected during 
his travels along the shores of the Tappan Sea, 
and his sojourn at Haverstraw and Ksopus. 

Finding that there was no longer any imme- 
diate necessity for his return to New York, he 
extended his journey up to the residence of his 
relations at Schaghtikoke. On his way thither 
he stopped for some days at Albany, for which 
city he is known to have entertained a great 
partiality. He found it, however, considerably 
altered, and was much concerned at the inroads 
and improvements which the Yankees were 
making, and the consequent decline of the good 
old Dutch manners. Indeed, he was informed 

B of IRevv lork 

that these intruders were making sad innova- 
tions in all parts of the State ; where they had 
given great trouble and vexation to the regular 
Dutch settlers by the introduction of turnpike- 
gates, and country school-houses. It is said, 
also, that Mr. Knickerbocker shook his head 
sorrowfully at noticing the gradual decay of 
the great Vander Heyden palace ; but was 
highly indignant at finding that the ancient 
Dutch church, which stood in the middle of the 
street, had been pulled down since his last visit. 

The fame of Mr. Knickerbocker’s history 
having reached even to Albany, he received 
much flattering attention from its worthy burgh- 
ers, some of whom, however, pointed out two 
or three very great errors he had fallen into, 
particularly that of suspending a lump of sugar 
over the Albany tea-tables, which, they assured 
him, had been discontinued for some years past. 
Several families, moreover, were somewhat 
piqued that their ancestors had not been men- 
tioned in his work, and showed great jealousy 
of their neighbors who had thus been distin- 
guished ; while the latter, it must be confessed, 
plumed themselves vastly thereupon ; consid- 
ering these recordings in the light of letters- 
patent of nobility, establishing their claims to 
ancestry, — which, in this republican countiyq 
is a matter of no little solicitude and vainglory. 



It is also said, that he enjoyed high favor and 
countenance from the governor, who once 
asked him to dinner, and was seen two or three 
times to shake hands with him, when they 
met in the streets ; which certainly was going 
great lengths, considering that they differed in 
politics. Indeed, certain of the governor’s 
confidential friends, to whom he could venture 
to speak his mind freely on such matters, have 
assured us, that he privately entertained a con- 
siderable good will for our author, — nay, he 
even once went so far as to declare, and that 
openly too, and at his own table, j ust after din- 
ner, that ‘ ‘ Knickerbocker was a very well- 
meaning sort of an old gentleman, and no fool.” 
From all which many have been led to suppose 
that, had our author been of different politics, 
and written for the newpapers instead of wast- 
ing his talents on histories, he might have risen 
to some post of honor and profit, — peradven- 
ture, to be a notary-public, or even a justice in 
the ten-pound court. 

Beside the honors and civilities already men- 
tioned, he was much caressed by the literati of 
Albany ; particularly by Mr. John Cook, who 
entertained him very hospitably at his circula- 
ting library and reading-room, where they used 
to drink Spa water, and talk about the ancients. 
He found Mr. Cook a man after his own heart, 



B Ibistors of IRcw lork 

— of great literary research, and a curious col- 
lector of books. At parting, the latter, in tes- 
timony of friendship, made him a present of 
the two oldest works in his collection ; which 
were the earliest edition of the Heidelberg Cat- 
echism, and Adrian Vander Donck’s famous 
account of the New Netherlands : by the last 
of which, Mr. Knickerbocker profited greatly 
in his second edition. 

Having passed some time very agreeably at 
Albany, our author proceeded to Schaghti- 
koke, where, it is but justice to say, he was 
received with open arms, and treated with won- 
derful loving-kindness. He was much looked 
up to by the family, being the first historian 
of the name ; and was considered almost as 
great a man as his cousin the congressman, — 
with whom, by the by, he became perfectly 
reconciled, and contracted a strong friendship. 

In spite, however, of the kindness of his 
relations and their great attention to his com- 
forts, the old gentleman soon became restless 
and discontented. His history being pub- 
lished, he had no longer any business to 
occupy his thoughts, or any scheme to excite 
his hopes and anticipations. This, to a busy 
mind like his, was a truly deplorable situation ; 
and, had he not been a man of inflexible morals 
and regular habits, there would have been 


Bccount of tbe Butbor 


great danger of his taking to politics, or drink- 
ing, — ^botli which pernicious vices we daily 
see men driven to by mere spleen and idle- 

It is true, he sometimes employed himself 
in preparing a second edition of his history, 
wherein he endeavored to correct and improve 
many passages with which he was dissatisfied, 
and to rectify some mistakes that had crept 
into it ; for he was particularly anxious that 
his work should be noted for its authenticity ; 
which, indeed, is the very life and soul of 
history. But the glow of composition had 
departed, — he had to leave many places 
untouched, which he would fain have altered ; 
and even where he did make alterations, he 
seemed always in doubt whether they were 
for the better or the worse. 

After a residence of some time at Schaghti- 
koke, he began to feel a strong desire to return 
to New York, which he ever regarded with 
the warmest affection ; not merely because it 
was his native city, but because he really con- 
sidered it the very best city in the whole world. 
On his return, he entered into the full enjoy- 
ment of the advantages of a literary reputation. 
He was continually importuned to write ad- 
vertisements, petitions, handbills, and produc- 
tions of similar import ; and, although he never 



meddled with the public papers, yet had he 
the credit of writing innumerable essays, and 
smart things, that appeared on all subjects, and 
all sides of the question ; in all which he was 
clearly detected “ by his style.” 

He contracted, moreover, a considerable debt 
at the post-office, in consequence of the. nu- 
merous letters he received from authors and 
printers soliciting his subscription, and he 
was applied to by every charitable society for 
yearly donations, which he gave very cheer- 
fully, considering these applications as so many 
compliments. He was once invited to a great 
corporation dinner ; and was even twice sum- 
moned to attend as a juryman at the court of 
quarter sessions. Indeed, so renowned did he 
become, that he could no longer pry about, as 
formerly, in all holes and corners of the city, 
according to the bent of his humor, unnoticed 
and uninterrupted ; but several times when he 
has been sauntering the streets, on his usual 
rambles of observation, equipped with his cane 
and cocked hat, the little boys at play have 
been known to cry, “ There goes Diedrich ! ” 
at which the old gentleman seemed not a little 
pleased, looking upon these salutations in the 
light of the praise of posterity. 

In a word, if we take into consideration all 
these various honors and distinctions, to- 

. 0 ! 

gether with an exuberant eulogium passed on 
him in the Port Folio, (with which, we are 
told, the old gentleman was so much over- 
powered, that he was sick for two or three 
days) it must be confessed, that few authors 
have ever lived to receive such illustrious 
rewards, or have so completely enjoyed in 
advance their own immortality. 

After his return from Schaghtikoke, Mr. 
Knickerbocker took up his residence at a 
little rural retreat, which the Stuyvesants had 
granted him on the family domain, in gratitude 
for his honorable mention of their ancestor. 
It was pleasantly situated on the borders of 
one of the salt marshes beyond Corlear’s 
Hook ; subject, indeed, to be occasionally 
overflowed, and much infested, in the summer 
time, with mosquitoes ; but otherwise very 
agreeable, producing abundant crops of salt 
grass and bulrushes. 

Here, we are sorry to say, the good old gen- 
tleman fell dangerously ill of a fever, occa- 
sioned by the neighboring marshes. When 
he found his end approaching, he disposed of 
his worldl}^ affairs, leaving the bulk of his 
fortune to the New York Historical Society ; 
his Heidelberg Catechism and Vander Donck’s 
work to the city library ; and his saddle-bags 
to Mr. Handaside. He forgave all his ene- 


B 1bi6tor^ of IRevv lorl? 

mies, — that is to say, all who bore any enmity 
towards him ; for as to himself, he declared he 
died in good will with all the world. And, 
after dictating several kind messages to his 
relations at Schaghtikoke, as well as to several 
of our most substantial Dutch citizens, he ex- 
pired in the arms of his friend, the librarian. 

His remains were interred, according to his 
own request, in St. Mark’s churchyard, close 
by the bones of his favorite hero, Peter Stuy- 
vesant ; and it is rumored that the Historical 
Society have it in mind to erect a wooden 
monument to his memory in the Bowling 


21 1bi6tor^ of IRew l^ork 

thought I, and those reverend Dutch burghers, 
who serve as the tottering monuments of good 
old times, will be gathered to their fathers ; 
their children, engrossed b}- the empty pleas- 
ures or insignificant transactions of the present 
age, will neglect to treasure up the recollec- 
tions of the past, and posterity will search in 
vain for memorials of the da3'’s of the Patri- 
archs. The origin of our city will be buried 
in eternal oblivion, and even the names and 
achievements of Wouter \"an Twiller, William 
Kieft, and Peter Stu^^vesant, be enveloped in 
doubt and fiction, like those of Romulus and 
Remus, of Charlemagne, King Arthur, Ri- 
naldo, and Godfrey- of Bologne. 

Determined, therefore, to avert if possible 
this threatened misfortune, I industriousl}'' set 
m^’self to work, to gather together all the 
fragments of our infant history" which still 
existed, and like my reverend prototype, 
Herodotus, where no written records could 
be found, I have endeavored to continue the 
chain of history b}" well-authenticated tra- 

In this arduous undertaking, which has 
been the whole business of a long and solitary 
life, it is incredible the number of learned 
authors I have consulted ; and all but to little 
purpose. Strange as it ma}^ seem, though 





such multitudes of excellent works have been 
written about this country, there are none 
extant which give any full and satisfactoiy^ 
account of the early history of New York, or 
of its three first Dutch governors. I have, 
however, gained much valuable and curious 
matter, from an elaborate manuscript written 
in exceeding pure and classic Low Dutch, ex- 
cepting a few errors in orthography, which 
was found in the archives of the Stuyvesant 
family. Many legends, letters, and other 
documents have I likewise gleaned, in my re- 
searches among the family chests and lumber- 
garrets of our respectable Dutch citizens ; and 
I have gathered a host of well-authenticated 
traditions from divers excellent old ladies of 
my acquaintance, who requested that their 
names might not be mentioned. Nor must I 
neglect to mention how greatly I have been 
assisted by that admirable and praiseworthy 
institution, the New York Historical Society, 
to which I here publicly return my sincere 
acknowledgments . 

In the conduct of this inestimable work I 
have adopted no individual model ; but, on the 
contrary, have simply contented myself with 
combining and concentrating the excellences 
of the most approved ancient historians. Like 
Xenophon, I have maintained the utmost 

. 0 ^ 


B 1bi6tori5 ot IKlew l^ork 

impartiality, and the strictest adherence to 
truth throughout my history. I have enriched 
it after the manner of Sallust with various 
characters of ancient worthies, drawn at full 
length, and faithfully colored. I have sea- 
soned it with profound political speculations 
like Thucydides, sweetened it with the graces 
of sentiment like Tacitus, and infused into the 
whole the dignity, the grandeur, and magnifi- 
cence of Livy. 

I am aware that I shall incur the censure of 
numerous very learned and judicious critics, 
for indulging too frequently in the bold excur- 
sive manner of my favorite Herodotus. And 
to be candid, I have found it impossible always 
to resist the allurements of those pleasing epi- 
sodes which, like flowery banks and fragrant 
bowers, beset the dusty road of the historian, 
and entice him to turn aside, and refresh him- 
self from his wayfaring. But I trust it will be 
found that I have always resumed my staff, 
and addressed myself to my weary journey with 
renovated spirits, so that both my readers and 
myself have been benefited by the relaxation. 

Indeed, though it has been my constant wish 
and uniform endeavor to rival Polybius him- 
self, in observdng the requisite unity of history, 
yet the loose and unconnected manner in which 
many of the facts herein recorded have come to 


S' '-9 

^To tbe {public 


hand, rendered such an attempt extremely 
difficult. This difficulty was likewise increased 
by one of the grand objects contemplated in 
my work, which was to trace the rise of sundry 
customs and institutions in this best of cities, 
and to compare them, when in the germ of 
infancy, with what they are in the present old 
age of knowledge and improvement. 

But the chief merit on which I value myself, 
and found my hopes for future regard, is that 
faithful veracity with which I have compiled 
this invaluable little work ; carefully winnow- 
ing away the chaff of hypothesis, and dis- 
carding the tares of fable, which are too apt to 
spring up and choke the seeds of truth and 
wholesome knowledge. Had I been anxious 
to captivate the superficial throng, who skim 
like swallows over the surface of literature ; or 
had I been anxious to commend m3' writings 
to the pampered palates of literary epicures, I 
might have availed myself of the obscurity 
that overshadows the infant years of our city, 
to introduce a thousand pleasing fictions. But 
I have scrupulously discarded many a pithy 
tale and marvellous adventure, whereby the 
drowsy ear of summer indolence might be 
enthralled ; jealously maintaining that fidelity, 
gravity, and dignity, which should ever dis- 
tinguish the historian. “ For a writer of this 


B 1bi6tori5 ot IRew l!)ork 

class, ’ ’ observes an elegant critic, ‘ ‘ must sustain 
the character of a wise man, writing for the 
instruction of posterit}^ ; one who has studied 
to inform himself well, who has pondered his 
subject with care, and addresses himself to 
our judgment, rather than to our imagination.” 

Thrice happy, therefore, is this our renowned 
city in having incidents worthy of swelling 
the theme of history ; and doubly thrice happy 
is it in. having such an historian as m^^self to 
relate them. For after all, gentle reader, cities 
of themselves^ and, in fact, empires of themselves, 
are nothing without an historian. It is the 
patient narrator who records their prosperity 
as they rise, — who blazons forth the splendor 
of their noon-tide meridian, — who props their 
feeble memorials as they totter to decay, — who 
gathers together their scattered fragments as 
they rot, — and who piously, at length, collects 
their ashes into the mausoleum of his work 
and rears a monument that will transmit their 
renown to all succeeding ages. 

What has been the fate of many fair cities 
of antiquity, whose nameless ruins encumber 
the plains of Europe and Asia, and awaken the 
fruitless inquiry of the traveller ? They have 
sunk into dust and silence, — they have per- 
ished from remembrance for want of an his- 
torian ! The philanthropist ma}^ weep over 




Zo tbc ipubUc 


their desolation, — the poet may wander among 
their mouldering arches and broken columns, 
and indulge the visionary flights of his fancy, 
— but, alas ! alas ! the modern historian, whose 
pen, like my own, is doomed to confine itself 
to dull matter-of-fact, seeks in vain among 
their oblivious remains for some memorial that 
may tell the instructive tale of their glory and 
their ruin. 

“Wars, conflagrations, deluges,” says Aris- 
totle, ‘ ‘ destroy nations, and with them all 
their monuments, their discoveries, and their 
vanities. The torch of science has more than 
once been extinguished and rekindled ; — a few 
individuals, who have escaped by accident, 
reunite the thread of generations.” 

The same sad misfortune which has hap- 
pened to so many ancient cities will happen 
again, and from the same sad cause, to nine 
tenths of those which now flourish on the face of 
the globe. With the most of them the time for 
recording their early history is gone by ; their 
origin, their foundation, together with the 
eventful period of their youth, are forever 
buried in the rubbish of years ; and the same 
would have been the case with this fair portion 
of the earth, if I had not snatched it from 
obscurity in the very nick of time, at the mo- 
ment that those matters herein recorded were 



B 1bi0tori5 of IRew lorft 

about entering into the wide-spread, insatiable 
maw of oblivion, — if I had not dragged them 
out, as it were, by the very locks, just as the 
monster’s adamantine fangs were closing upon 
them forever ! And here have I, as before 
observed, carefully collected, collated, and ar- 
ranged them, scrip and scrap, '' punt en punt^ 
gat en gat, ’ ’ and commenced in this little work 
a history, to serve as a foundation on which 
other historians may hereafter raise a noble 
superstructure, swelling in process of time, 
until Knickerbocker’s New York n\2iy be equally 
voluminous with Gibbon’s Rome, or Hume and 
Smollett’s England ! 

And now indulge me for a moment, while 
I lay down my pen, skip to some little emi- 
nence at the distance of two or three hundred 
years ahead ; and, casting back a bird’s-eye 
glance over the waste of years that is to roll 
between, discover myself — little I — at this mo- 
ment the progenitor, prototype, and precursor 
of them all, posted at the head of this host of 
literary worthies, with my book under my arm, 
and New York on my back, pressing forward, 
like a gallant commander, to honor and im- 

Such are the vainglorious imaginings that 
will now and then enter into the brain of the 
author, — that irradiate, as with celestial light. 


^To the public 

his solitary chamber, cheering his weary 
spirits, and animating him to persevere in his 
labors. And I have freely given utterance to 
these rhapsodies whenever they have occurred ; 
not, I trust, from an unusual spirit of egotism, 
but merely that the reader may for once have 
an idea how an author thinks and feels while 
he is writing, — a kind of knowledge very rare 
and curious, and much to be desired. 

\ ^ 6/f 

/»= — 



Cbapter IT 


CCORDING to the best authori- 
ties, the world in which we dwell 
\ is a huge, opaque, reflect- 

W ing, inanimate mass, float- 

^ % ing in the vast ethereal 

ocean of infinite space. It 
has the form of an orange, being an oblate 
spheroid, curiously fiattened at opposite parts, 
for the insertion of two imaginary poles, which 
are supposed to penetrate and unite at the 
centre, thus forming an axis on which the 
mighty orange turns with a regular diurnal 

The transitions of light and darkness, 
whence proceed the alternations of day and 
night, are produced by this diurnal revolution 
successively presenting the different parts of 
the earth to the rays of the sun. The latter is, 
according to the best, that is to say, the latest 
accounts, a luminous or fiery body, of a pro- 
digious magnitude, from which this world is 



B Ibietor^ of IRevv l^ork 

driven by a centrifugal or repelling power, and 
to which it is drawn by a centripetal or attrac- 
tive force ; otherwise called the attraction of 
gravitation ; the combination, or rather the 
counteraction of these two opposing impulses 
producing a circular and annual revolution. 
Hence result the different .seasons of the year, 
viz. : spring, summer, autumn, and winter. 

This I believe to be the most approved mod- 
ern theory on the subject, — though there may be 
many philosophers who have entertained very 
different opinions ; some, too, of them entitled 
to much deference from their great antiquity 
and illustrious character. Thus it was ad- 
vanced by some of the ancient sages, that the 
earth was an extended plane, supported by 
vast pillars ; and by others, that it rested on 
the head of a snake, or the back of a huge 
tortoise ; — but as they did not provide a rest- 
ing-place for either the pillars or the tortoise, 
the whole theory fell to the ground, for want 
of proper foundation. 

The Brahmins assert that the heavens rest 
upon the earth, and the sun and moon swim 
therein like fi.shes in the water, moving from 
east to west by day, and gliding along the 
edge of the horizon to their original stations 
during the night ; * while, according to the 
* Faria y Souza. Mick. Lus., note b. 7. 




B Ibietor^ of IRew lock 

Pauranicas of India, it is a vast plain, encircled 
by seven oceans of milk, nectar, and other 
delicious liquids ; that it is studded with seven 
mountains, and ornamented in the centre by a 
mountainous rock of burnished gold ; and that 
a great dragon occasionally swallows up the 
moon, which accounts for the phenomena of 
lunar eclipses.* 

Beside these, and many other equally sage 
opinions, we have the profound conjectures of 
Aboul-Hassan-Aly, son of A1 Khan, son of 
Aly, son of Abderrahman, .son of Abdallah, 
son of Masoud-el-Hadheli who is commonly 
called Masoudi, and surnamed Cothbiddin, 
but who takes the humble title of Laheb-ar- 
rasoul, which means the companion of the 
ambassador of God. He has written a univer- 
sal history, entitled Mouroudge-ed-dharab ^ or 
the Golden Meadows, and the Mines of Precious 
Stones, t In this valuable work he has re- 
lated the history of the world from the creation 
down to the moment of writing ; which was 
under the Khaliphat of Mothi Billah, in the 
month Dgioumadi-el-aoual of the 336th 3^ear 
of the Hegira or flight of the Prophet. He 
informs us that the earth is a huge bird, Mecca 

* Sir W. Jones, Piss. Antiq. Ind. Zod. 

t MSS. Bibliot. Roi Fr. 

- 3 '' 


B Ibietors of IRew lork 

tions.* But I give little attention to the doc- 
trines of this philosopher, the people of Athens 
having fully refuted them, by banishing him 
from their city : a concise mode of answering 
unwelcome doctrines, much resorted to in for- 
mer days. Another sect of philosophers do 
declare, that certain fiery particles exhale con- 
stantly from the earth, which, concentrating in 
a single point of the firmament by day, consti- 
tute the sun, but being scattered and rambling 
about in the dark at night, collect in various 
points, and form stars. These are regularly 
burnt out and extinguished, not unlike to the 
lamps in our streets, and require a fresh supply 
of exhalations for the next occasion, f 

It is even recorded, that at certain remote 
and obscure periods, in consequence of a great 
scarcity of fuel, the sun has been completely 
burnt out, and sometimes not rekindled for a 
month at a time. A most melancholy cir- 
cumstance, the very idea of which gave vast 
concern to Heraclitus, that worthy weeping 
philosopher of antiquity. In addition to these 

* Diogenes Laetius in Anaxag., lib., ii., sec. 8. Plat., 
Apol., t. i., p. 26. Pint., De Plac. Phil. Xenoph., 
Mem.y lib. iv., p. 815. 

t Aristot., Meteor., lib. ii., cap. 2. Idem, Probl., sec. 
15, Stob., Eel. Phys., lib. i., p. 55. Brack., Hist. 
Phil., t. i., p. 1154, etc. 

profeseor lt)on ipoC>Dingcoft 


various speculations, it was the opinion of 
Herschel, that the sun is a magnificent, hab- 
itable abode ; the light it furnishes arising 
from certain empyreal, luminous or phosphoric 
clouds, swimming in its transparent atmos- 
phere. * 

But we will not enter further at present into 
the nature of the sun, that being an inquiry 
not immediately necessary to the development 
of this history ; neither will we embroil our- 
selves in any more of the endless disputes of 
philosophers touching the form of this globe, 
but content ourselves with the theory advanced 
in the beginning of this chapter, and will pro- 
ceed to illustrate, by experiment, the complex- 
ity of motion therein ascribed to this our 
rotatory planet. 

Professor Von Poddingcoft (or Puddinghead, 
as the name may be rendered into English) 
was long celebrated in the university of Ley- 
den, for profound gravity of deportment, and 
a talent at going to sleep in the midst of exami- 
nations, to the infinite relief of his hopeful 
students, who thereby worked their way 
through college with great ease and little study. 
In the course of one of his lectures, the learned 
professor, seizing a bucket of water, swung it 

* Philos. Trans., 1795, p. 72. Idem, 1801, p. 265. 
Nich., Philos, yourn., i., p. 13. 


B 1bl6tor^ of 1Rew l^orl? 

around his head at arm’s length. The impulse 
with which he threw the vessel from him, 
being a centrifugal force, the retention of his 
arm operating as a centripetal powder, and the 
bucket, which was a substitute for the earth, 
describing a circular orbit round about the 
globular head and ruby visage of Professor 
Von Poddingcoft, which formed no bad rep- 
resentation of the sun. All of these particulars 
were duly explained to the class of gaping 
students around him. He apprised them, 
moreover, that the same principle of gravita- 
tion, which retained the water in the bucket, 
restrains the ocean from flying from the earth 
in its rapid revolutions ; and he further in- 
formed them that should the motion of the 
earth be suddenly checked, it would inconti- 
nently fall into the sun, through the centripetal 
force of gravitation, — a most ruinous event to 
this planet, and one which would also obscure, 
though it most probably would not extinguish, 
the solar luminary. An unlucky stripling, 
one of those vagrant geniuses, who seem sent 
into the world merely to annoy worthy men of 
the puddinghead order, desirous of ascertaining 
the correctness of the experiment, suddenly 
arrested the*arm of the professor, just at the 
moment that the bucket was in its zenith, 
which immediately descended with astonish- 

H practical JEjpcriment 

ing precision upon the philosophic head of the 
instructor of youth. A hollow sound, and a 
red-hot hiss, attended the contact ; but the 
theory was in the amplest manner illustrated, 
for the unfortunate bucket perished in the con- 
flict ; but the blazing countenance of Professor 
Von Poddingcoft emerged from amidst the 


waters, glowing fiercer than ever with unutter- 
able indignation, whereby the students were 
marvellously edified, and departed consider- 
ably wiser than before. 

It is a mortifying circumstance, which 
greatly perplexes many a painstaking philos- 
opher, that nature often refuses to second his 
most profound and elaborate efforts ; so that 


B 1bi6tori5 of IRcw l^ork 

after having invented one of the most ingenious 
and natural theories imaginable, she will have 
the perverseness to act directly in the teeth of 
his system, and flatly contradict his most 
favorite positions. This is a manifest and 
unmerited grievance, since it throws the cen- 
sure of the vulgar and unlearned entirely upon 
the philosopher ; whereas the fault is not to be 
ascribed to his theory, which is unquestionably 
correct, but the waywardness of Dame Nature, 
who, with the proverbial flckleness of her sex, 
is continually indulging in coquetries and 
caprices, and seems really to take pleasure in 
violating all philosophic rules, and jilting the 
most learned and indefatigable of her adorers. 
Thus it happened with respect to the foregoing 
satisfactory explanation of the motion of our 
planet ; it appears that the centrifugal force has 
long since ceased to operate, while its antagonist 
remains in undiminished potency ; the world, 
therefore, according to the theory as it origin- 
ally stood, ought in strict propriety to tumble 
into the sun ; philosophers were convinced 
that it would do so, and awaited in anxious 
impatience the fulfilment of their prognostics. 
But the untoward planet pertinaciously con- 
tinued her course, notwithstanding that she had 
reason, philosophy, and a whole university of 
learned professors opposed to her conduct. 


Zbc of tbe movib 


The philosophers took this in very ill part, and 
it is thought they would never have pardoned 
the slight and affront which they conceived 
put upon them by the world, had not a good- 
natured professor kindly officiated as a mediator 
between the parties, and effected a reconcilia- 

Finding the world would not accommodate 
itself to the theory, he wisely determined to 
accommodate the theory to the world ; he there- 
fore informed his brother philosophers, that 
the circular motion of the earth round the sun 
was no sooner engendered by the conflicting 
impulses, above described, than it became a 
regular revolution, independent of the causes 
which gave it origin. His learned brethren 
readily joined in the opinion, being heartily 
glad of any explanation that would decently 
extricate them from their embarrassment ; and 
ever since that memorable era the world has 
been left to take her own course, and to revolve 
around the sun in such orbit as she thinks 

Chapter 1I1F 


multitude of excellent theories, by which 

SUCH difficult matter AS COMMON FOLK WOULD 

S ’ AVING thus briefly in- 
troduced my reader to 
the world, and given 
him some idea of its 
form and situation, he 
will naturally be curious 
to know from whence it 
came, and how it was 
created. And, indeed, 
the clearing up of these 
points is absolutely es- 
sential to my history, inasmuch as if this world 
had not been formed, it is more than probable 
that this renowned island, on which is situated 
the city of New York, would never have had 
an existence. The regular course of my his- 
tory, therefore, requires that I should proceed 
to notice the cosmogony or formation of this 
our globe. 

Divers ^Tbeories 


And now I give my readers fair warning 
that I am about to plunge, for a chapter or 
two, into as complete a labyrinth as ever his- 
torian was perplexed withal ; therefore, I advise 
them to take fast hold of my skirts, and keep 
close at my heels, venturing neither to the 
right hand nor to the left, lest they get bemired 
in a slough of unintelligible learning, or have 
their brains knocked out by some of those hard 
Greek names which will be flying about in all 
directions. But should any of them be too 
indolent or chicken-hearted to accompany me 
in this perilous undertaking, they had better 
take a short cut round, and wait for me at the 
beginning of some smoother chapter. 

Of the creation of the world, we have a 
thousand contradictory accounts ; and though 
a very satisfactory one is furnished us by 
divine revelation, yet every philosopher feels 
himself in honor bound to furnish us with a 
better. As an impartial historian I consider it 
my duty to notice their several theories, by 
which mankind have been so exceedingly 
edified and instructed. 

Thus it was the opinion of certain ancient 
sages, that the earth and the whole system of 
the universe was the Deit)^ himself ; * a doc- 
trine most strenuously maintained by Zeno- 
* Aristot., Ap. Cic.y lib. i., cap. 3. 



21 1[3istor^ ot IRew lorh 

phanes and the whole tribe of Eleatics, as also 
by Strabo and the sect of peripatetic philoso- 
phers. Pythagoras likewise inculcated the 
famous numerical system of the monad, dyad, 
and triad, and by means of his sacred quater- 
nary elucidated the formation of the world, the 
arcana of nature, and the principles both of 
music and morals.* Other sages adhered to 
the mathematical system of squares and tri- 
angles ; the cube, the pyramid, and the sphere ; 
the tetrahedron, the octahedron, the icosahe- 
dron, and the dodecahedron. f While others 
advocated the great elementary theory which 
refers the construction of our globe and all 
that it contains to the combinations of four 
material elements : air, earth, fire, and water, 
with the assistance of a fifth, an immaterial 
and vivifying principle. 

Nor must I omit to mention the great atomic 
system taught by old Moschus, before the 
siege of Troy ; revived by Democritus of 
laughing memory ; improved by Epicurus, 
that king of good fellows, and modernized by 
the fanciful Descartes. But I decline inquiring 
whether the atoms, of which the earth is said 

* Aristot., Meiaph., lib. i., cap. 5. Idem, De Coelo^ 
lib. iii., cap i. Rousseau, Mem. sur Musique Ancien^ 
p. 39. Plutarch, De Plac. Phil., lib. i., cap. 3. 

fTim,, Locr. ap. Plato., t. iii., p. 90. 


to be composed, are eternal or recent ; whether 
they are animate or inanimate ; whether, agree- 
ably to the opinion of the atheists, they were 
fortuitously aggregated, or, as the theists main- 
tain, were arranged by a vSUpreme intelligence.* 
Whether, in fact, the earth be an insensate 
clod, or whether it be animated by a soul ; t 
which opinion was strenuously maintained by 
a host of philosophers, at the head of whom 
stands the great Plato, that temperate sage, 
who threw the cold water of philosophy on the 
form of sexual intercourse, and inculcated the 
doctrine of Platonic love, — an exquisitely re- 
fined intercourse, but much better adapted to 
the ideal inhabitants of his imaginary island 
of Atlantis than to the sturdy race, composed 
of rebellious flesh and blood, which populates 
the little matter-of-fact island we inhabit. 

Beside these systems, we have, moreover, 
the poetical theogony of old Hesiod, who gen- 
erated the whole universe in the regular mode 
of procreation, and the plausible opinion of 
others, that the earth was hatched from the 

* Aristot., Nat. Auscult., lib. ii., cap. 6. Aristopb., 
Metaph.^ lib. i., cap. 3. Cic., De Nat. Dear., lib. i., 
cap. 10. Justin Mart., Prat, ad Gent., p. 20. 

t Mosheim in Cudw., lib. i., cap. 4. Tim., De Anim. 
Mund. sp. Plat., lib. iii. Mem. de PAcad. des Belles- 
Lettr. , t. xxxii., p. 19, et al. 

VOL. I. — 4 



B 1bi6tors of IRevv l^orh 

great egg of night, which floated in chaos, and 
was cracked by the horns of the celestial bull. 
To illustrate this last doctrine, Burnet, in his 
theory of the earth,* has favored us with an 
accurate drawing and description, both of 
the form and texture of this mundane egg ; 
which is found to bear a marvellous resem- 
blance to that of a goose. Such of my readers 
as take a proper interest in the origin of this 
our planet, will be pleased to learn that the 
most profound sages of antiquity among the 
Egyptians, Chaldeans, Persians, Greeks, and 
Latins, have alternately assisted at the hatch- 
ing of this strange bird, and that their cacklings 
have been caught, and continued in different 
tones and inflections, from philosopher to 
philosopher, unto the present day. 

But while briefly noticing long celebrated 
systems of ancient sages, let me not pass over 
with neglect those of other philosophers ; 
which, though less universal and renowned, 
have equal claims to attention, and equal 
chance for correctness. Thus, it is recorded 
by the Brahmins, in the pages of their inspired 
Shastah, that the angel Bistnoo, transforming 
himself into a great boar, plunged into the 
watery abyss, and brought up the earth on his 
tusks. Then issued from him a mighty tor- 
* Book i., ch. 5. 


2)ivcr0 ^Tbeories 

toise, and a mighty snake ; and Bistnoo placed 
the snake erect upon the back of the tortoise, 
and he placed the earth upon the head of the 

The negro philosophers of Congo affirm that 
the world was made by the hands of angels, 
excepting their own country, which the Su- 
preme Being constructed himself, that it 
might be supremely excellent. And he took 
great pains with 
the inhabitants, 
and made them 
black and 


beautiful ; and 
when he had fin- 
ished the first 
man, he was well 
pleased with him, 
and smoothed him 
over the face, and 
hence his nose, 
and the nose of 
all his descend- 
ants, became flat. 

The Mohawk 
philosophers tell 
us that a pregnant woman fell down from 
heaven, and that a tortoise took her upon its 
* Hoi well, Gent. Philosophy. 





B 1bi6tor^ of IWcvv 

back, because every place was covered with 
water ; and that the woman, sitting upon the 
tortoise, paddled with her hands in the water, 
and raked up the earth, whence it finally 
happened that the earth became higher than 
the water.* 

But I forbear to quote a number more of 
these ancient and outlandish philosophers, 
whose deplorable ignorance, in despite of all 
their erudition, compelled them to write in 
languages which but few of my readers can 
understand ; and I shall proceed briefly to 
notice a few more intelligible and fashionable 
theories of their modern successors. 

And first I shall mention the great Buffon, 
who conjectures that this globe was originally 
a globe of liquid fire, scintillated from the body 
of the sun, by the percussion of a comet, as a 
spark is generated by the collision of flint 
and steel. That at first it was surrounded 
by gross vapors, which, cooling and con- 
densing in process of time, constituted, ac- 
cording to their densities, earth, water, and 
air ; which gradually arranged themselves, 
according to their respective gravities, round 
the burning or vitrified mass that formed their 

* Johannes Megapolensis, Jun. 
quaas or Mohawk Indians. 

Account of Ma- 

Divers theories 

Hutton, on the contrary, supposes that the 
waters at first were universally paramount ; 
and he terrifies himself with the idea that the 
earth must be eventually washed away by the 
force of rain, rivers, and mountain torrents, 
until it is confounded with the ocean, or, in 


other words, absolutely dissolves into itself. 
Sublime idea ! far surpassing that of the ten- 
der-hearted damsel of antiquity, who wept 
herself into a fountain ; or the good dame of 
Narbonne in France, who, for a volubility of 
tongue unusual in her sex, was doomed to 



B Ibietor^ ot 1Fle\v lork 

peel five hundred thousand and thirty-nine 
ropes of onions, and actually run out at her 
eyes before half the hideous task was accom- 

Whiston, the same ingenious philosopher 
who rivalled Ditton in his researches after the 
longitude (for w^hich the mischief-loving Swift 
discharged on their heads a most savory 
stanza) has distinguished himself by a very 
admirable theory respecting the earth. He 
conjectures that it was originally a chaotic 
co7net^ which being selected for the abode of 
man, was removed from its eccentric orbit, and 
whirled round the sun in its present regular 
motion ; by which change of direction, order 
succeeded to confusion in the arrangement of 
its component parts. The philosopher adds, 
that the deluge was produced by an uncour- 
teous salute from the wateiy^ tail of another 
comet ; doubtless through sheer envy of its 
improved condition ; thus furnishing a melan- 
choly proof that jealousy may prevail, even 
among the heavenly bodies, and discord in- 
terrupt that celestial harmony of the spheres, 
so melodiously sung by the poets. 

But I pass over a variety of excellent theo- 
ries, among which are those of Burnet, and 
Woodward, and Whitehurst ; regretting ex- 
tremely that my time will not suffer me to give 


:) 0 

Divers ^beories 


them the notice they deserve, — and shall 
conclude with that of the renowned Dr. 
Darwin. This learned Theban, who is as 
much distinguished for rhyme as reason, and 
for good-natured credulity as serious research, 
and who has recommended himself wonder- 
fully to the good graces of the ladies, by let- 
ting them into all the gallantries, amours, 
debaucheries, and 'other topics of scandal of 
the court of Flora, has fallen upon a theory 
worthy of his combustible imagination. Ac- 
cording to his opinion, the huge mass of chaos 
took a sudden occasion to explode, like a barrel 
of gunpowder, and in that act exploded the 
sun, — which in its flight, by a similar convul- 
sion, exploded the earth, which in like guise 
exploded the moon, — and thus by a concate- 
nation of explosions, the whole solar system 
was produced, and set most systematically in 
motion ! * 

By the great variety of theories here alluded 
to, every one of which, if thoroughly examined, 
will be found surprisingly consistent in all its 
parts, my unlearned readers will perhaps be 
led to conclude, that the creation of a world is 
not so difficult a task as they at first imagined. 
I have shown at least a score of ingenious 
methods in which a world could be con- 
* Darw., Bot. Garden^ Part I., Cant, i., i, 105. 


Bmusemente of pbilosopbcrs 

steeds, are as wild in their curvetings as was 
Phaeton of yore, when he aspired to manage 
the chariot of Phoebus. One drives his comet 


at full speed against the sun, and knocks the 
world out of him with the mighty concussion ; 
another, more moderate, makes his comet a 
kind of beast of burden, carrying the sun a 



B Ibietor^ of IRew l^orh 

regular supply of food and fagots ; a third, of 
more combustible disposition, threatens to 
throw his comet, like a bomb-shell, into the 
world, and blow it up like a powder-magazine ; 
while a fourth, with no great delicacy to this 
planet and its inhabitants, insinuates that some 
day or other his comet — my modest pen blushes 
while I write it — shall absolutely turn tail upon 
our world, and deluge it with water ! Surely, 
as I have already observed, comets were bounti- 
fully provided by Providence for the benefit of 
philosophers, to assist them in manufacturing 

And now, having adduced several of the 
most prominent theories that occur to my rec- 
ollection, I leave my judicious readers at full 
liberty to choose among them. They are all 
serious speculations of learned men, — all differ 
essentially from each other, — and all have the 
same title to belief. It has ever been the task 
of one race of philosophers to demolish the 
works of their predecessors, and elevate more 
splendid fantasies in their stead, which in 
their turn are demolished and replaced by 
the air-castles of a succeeding generation. 
Thus it would seem that knowledge and ge- 
nius, of which we make such great parade, con- but in detecting the errors and absurdities 
of those who have gone before, and devising 


Amusements of ipbilosopbers 


new errors and absurdities, to be detected by 
those who are to come after us. Theories are 
the mighty soap-bubbles with which the grown- 
up children of science amuse themselves, — 
while the honest vulgar stand gazing in stupid 
admiration, and dignify these learned vagaries 
with the name of wisdom ! Surely, Socrates 
was right in his opinion, that philosophers are 
but a soberer sort of madman, busying them- 
selves in things totally incomprehensible, or 
which, if they could be comprehended, would 
be found not worthy the trouble of discovery. 

For my own part, until the learned have 
come to an agreement among themselves, I 
shall content myself with the account handed 
down to us by Moses ; in which I do but fol- 
low the example of our ingenious neighbors 
of Connecticut ; who at their first settlement 
proclaimed, that the colony should be governed 
by the laws of God — until they had time to 
make better. 

One thing, however, appears certain, — from 
the unanimous authority of the before-quoted 
philosophers, supported by the evidence of our 
own senses (which, though very apt to deceive 
us, may be cautiously admitted as additional 
testimony) — it appears, I say, and I make the 
assertion deliberately, without fear of contra- 
diction, that this globe really was created, and 

21 1 bl 0 tor^ of IRevv 

that it is composed of land a7id water. It fur- 
ther appears that it is curiously divided and 
parcelled out into continents and islands, among 
which I boldly declare the renowned Island op 
New York will be found by any one who seeks 
for it in its proper place. 

Chapter IFIFIf 


JN OAH, who is the 

first seafaring 
man we read 
of, begat three 
sons: Shem, 

phet. Authors, 

m ^ not wanting, 

^ ^ \ ' who affirm that 

\ the patriarch 

had a number of other children. Thus, Bero- 
sus makes him father of the gigantic Titans ; 
Methodius gives him a son called Jonithus, or 
Jonicus ; and others have mentioned a son, 
named Thuiscon, from whom descended the 
Teutons or Teutonic, or in other words, the 
Dutch nation. 





B Ibistorg of IRew l^orft 

I regret exceedingly that the nature of 
plan will not permit me to gratify the laudable 
curiosity of my readers, by investigating min- 
utely the history of the great Noah. Indeed, such 
an undertaking would be attended with more 
trouble than many people would imagine, for 
the good old patriarch seems to have been a great 
traveller in his day, and to have passed under a 
different name in every country that he visited. 
The Chaldeans, for instance, give us his story, 
merely altering his name into Xisuthrus, — a 
trivial alteration, which, to an historian skilled 
in etymologies, will appear wholly unimportant. 
It appears, likewise, that he had exchanged 
his tarpaulin and quadrant among the Chal- 
deans for the gorgeous insignia of royalty, and 
appears as a monarch in their annals. The 
Egyptians celebrate him under the name of 
Osiris ; the Indians as Menu ; the Greek and 
Roman writers confound him with Ogyges, and 
the Theban with Deucalion and Saturn. But 
the Chinese, who deservedly rank among the 
most extensive and authentic historians, inas- 
much as they have known the world much 
longer than any one else, declare that Noah 
was no other than Fohi ; and what gives this 
assertion some air of credibility is, that it is a 
fact, admitted by the most enlightened literati^ 
that Noah travelled into China, at the time of 




1Hoab’6 Sons 


the building of the tower of Babel (probably to 
improve himself in the study of languages), 
and the learned Dr. Shack ford gives us the 
additional information, that the ark rested on 
a mountain on the frontiers of China. 


From this mass of rational conjectures and 
sage hypotheses, many satisfactory deductions 
might be drawn ; but I shall content myself 
with the simple fact stated in the Bible, viz. : 
that Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, andja- 
phet. It is astonishing on what remote and ob- 


B 1f3istori? of IRevv ]ll)orh 

scure contingencies the great affairs of this world 
depend, and how events the most distant, and 
to the common observer unconnected, are in- 
evitably consequent the one to the other. It 
remains to the philosopher to discover these 
mysterious affinities, and it is the proudest 
triumph of his skill, to detect and drag forth 
some latent chain of causation which at first 
sight appears a paradox to the inexperienced 
observer. Thus many of my readers will 
doubtless wonder what connection the family 
of Noah can possibly have with this history, — 
and man)" will stare when informed that the 
whole history of this quarter of the world has 
taken its character and course from the simple 
circumstance of the patriarch’s having but 
three sons. But to explain : 

Noah, we are told by sundry very credible 
historians, becoming sole surviving heir and 
proprietor of the earth, in fee-simple, after the 
deluge, like a good father, portioned out his 
estate among his children. To Shem he gave 
Asia ; to Ham, Africa ; andto Japhet, Europe. 
Now it is a thousand times to be lamented that 
he had but three sons, for had there been a 
fourth, he would doubtless have inherited 
America ; which, of course, would have been 
dragged forth from its obscurity on the occa- 
sion ; and thus many a hard-working historian 

and philosopher would have been spared a 
prodigious mass of weary conjecture respecting 
the first discovery and population of this coun- 
try. Noah, however, having provided for his 
three sons, looked in all probability upon our 
country as a mere wild unsettled land, and said 
nothing about it ; and to this unpardonable 
taciturnity of the patriarch may we ascribe 
the misfortune that America did not come 
into the world as early as the other quarters 
of the globe. 

It is true, some writers have vindicated him 
from this misconduct towards posterity, and 
asserted that he really did discover America. 
Thus it was the opinion of Mark Lescarbot, a 
French writer, possessed of that ponderosity 
of thought and profoundness of reflection so 
peculiar to his nation, that the immediate de- 
scendants of Noah peopled this quarter of the 
globe, and that the old patriarch himself, who 
still retained a passion for the seafaring life, 
superintended the transmigration. The pious 
and enlightened father Charlevoix, a French 
Jesuit, remarkable for his aversion to the 
marvellous, common to all great travellers, is 
conclusively of the same opinion ; nay, he goes 
still farther, and decides upon the manner in 
which the discovery was effected, which was 
by sea, and under the immediate direction of 

VOL. I. — 5 






B ■ff3i6torB of 1Re\v l^orl; 

the great Noah. “ I have already observ^ed,” 
exclaims the good father, in a tone of becom- 
ing indignation, “ that it is an arbitrary sup- 
position that the grandchildren of Noah were 
not able to penetrate into the new world, or 
that they never thought of it. In effect, I can 
see no reason that can justify such a notion. 
Who can seriously believe that Noah and his 
immediate descendants knew less than we do, 
and that the builder and pilot of the greatest 
ship that ever was, — a ship which was formed 
to traverse an unbounded ocean, and had so 
many shoals and quicksands to guard against, 
— should be ignorant of, or should not have 
communicated to his descendants the art of 
sailing on the ocean ? ’ ’ Therefore, they did 
sail on the ocean ; therefore, they sailed to 
America ; therefore, America, was discovered 
by Noah ! 

Now all this exquisite chain of reasoning, 
which is so strikingly characteristic of the 
good father, being addressed to the faith, rather 
than the understanding, is flatly opposed by 
Hans de Laet, who declares it a real and most 
ridiculous paradox to suppose that Noah ever 
entertained the thought of discovering Amer- 
ica ; and as Hans is a Dutch writer, I am 
inclined to believe he must have been much 
better acquainted with the worthy crew of the 

vw re 

Ibans be Uaet 

ark than his competitors, and of course pos- 
sessed of more accurate sources of information. 
It is astonishing how intimate historians do 
daily become with the patriarchs and other 
great men of antiquity. As intimacy improves 


with time, and as the learned are particularly 
inquisitive and familiar in their acquaintance 
with the ancients, I should not be surprised if 
some future writers should gravely give us a 
picture of men and manners as they existed 
before the flood, far more copious and accurate 

68 B Ibistor^ of IRew l^ork 

than the Bible ; and that in the course of an- 
other century the log-book of the good Noah 
should be as current among historians as the 
voyages of Captain Cook, or the renowned his- 
tory of Robinson Crusoe. 

I shall not occupy my time by discussing the 
huge mass of additional suppositions, conjec- 
tures, and probabilities respecting the first dis- 
covery of this countr}^, with which unhappy 
historians overload themselves, in their endeav- 
ors to satisfy the doubts of an incredulous 
world. It is painful to see these laborious 
wights panting, and toiling, and sweating, 
under an enormous burden, at the very outset 
of their works, which, on being opened, turns 
out to be nothing but a mighty bundle of 
straw. As, however, by unwearied assiduity, 
they seem to have established the fact, to the 
satisfaction of all the world, that this country 
has been diseovered, I shall avail myself of 
their useful labors to be extremely brief upon 
this point. 

I shall not, therefore, stop to inquire 
whether America was first discovered by a 
wandering vessel of that celebrated Phoenician 
fleet, which, according to Herodotus, circum- 
navigated Africa ; or by that Carthaginian ex- 
pedition, which Pliny the naturalist informs 
us discovered the Canary Islands ; or whether 

Cbnstoval Colon 


it was settled by a temporary colony from 
Tyre, as hinted by Aristotle and Seneca. I 
shall neither inquire whether it was first dis- 
covered by the Chinese, as Vossius with great 
shrewdness advances ; nor by the Norwegians 
in 1002, under Biorn ; nor by Behem, the Ger- 
man navigator, as Mr. Otto has endeavored to 
prove to the savans of the learned city of Phil- 

Nor shall I investigate the more modern 
claims of the Welsh, founded on the voyage of 
Prince Madoc in the eleventh century, who 
having never returned, it has since been wisely 
concluded that he must have gone to America, 
and that for a plain reason, — if he did not go 
there, where else could he have gone ? — a ques- 
tion which most socratically shuts out all fur- 
ther dispute. 

Laying aside, therefore, all the conjectures 
above mentioned, with a multitude of others, 
equally satisfactory, I shall take for granted 
the vulgar opinion, that America was discov- 
ered on the 12th of October, 1492, by Chris- 
to val Colon, a Genoese, who has been clumsily 
nicknamed Columbus, but for what reason I 
cannot discern. Of the voyages and adven- 
tures of this Colon, I shall say nothing, seeing 
that they are already sufficiently known. Nor 
shall I undertake to prove that this country 

B Ibietor^ ot IKlew l^orft 

should have been called Colonia, after his 
name, that being notoriously self-evident. 

Having thus happily got my readers on this 
side of the Atlantic, I picture them to myself 
all impatience to enter upon the enjoyment of 
the land of promise, and in full expectation 


that I will immediately deliver it into their 
possession. But if I do may I ever forfeit the 
reputation of a regular-bred historian ! No — 
no, — most curious and thrice learned readers 
( for thrice learned ye are if ye have read all 
that has gone before, and nine times learned 

trolls of Carl^ Discoverers 

shall ye be if ye read that which comes after), 
we have yet a world of work before us. Think 
you the first discoverers of this fair quarter of 
the globe had nothing to do but go on shore 
and find a country ready laid out and culti- 
vated like a garden, wherein they might 
revel at their ease? No such thing; they 
had forests to cut down, underwood to grub 
up, marshes to drain, and savages to exter- 

In like manner, I have sundry doubts to 
clear away, questions to resolve, and paradoxes 
to explain, before I permit you to range at 
random ; but these difficulties once overcome, 
we shall be enabled to jog on right merrily 
through the rest of our history. Thus my 
work shall, in a manner, echo the nature of 
the subject, in the same manner as the sound 
of poetry has been found by certain shrewd 
critics to echo the sense, — this being an im- 
provement in history which I claim the merit 
of having invented. 

Chapter W, 


next inquiry at which 
1 we arrive in the regular 
I course of our history is 
to ascertain, if possible, 
how this country 


originally peopled, — a 
' point fruitful of incredi- 

ble embarrassments ; for 
unless we prove that the 
^ ^ Aborigines did absolutely come 
from somewhere, it will be 
immediately asserted, in this 
age of skepticism, that they did not come at 
all ; and if they did not come at all, then was 
this country never populated, — a conclusion 
perfectly agreeable to the rules of logic, 
but wholly irreconcilable to every feeling of 
humanity, inasmuch as it must syllogisti- 

ZTbe ipoct /Iftacrobious 


cally prove fatal to the innumerable 
rigines of this populous region. 

To avert so dire a sophism, and to rescue 
from logical annihilation so many millions of 
fellow-creatures, how many wings of geese 
have been plundered ! what oceans of ink 
have been benevolently drained ! and how 
many capacious heads of learned historians 
have been addled, and forever confounded ! 
I pause with reverential awe, when I contem- 
plate the ponderous tomes, in different lan- 
guages, with which they have endeavored to 
solve this question, so important to the happi- 
ness of society, but so involved in clouds of 
impenetrable obscurity. 

Historian after historian has engaged in the 
endless circle of hypothetical argument, and 
after leading us a weary chase through octavos, 
quartos, and folios, has let us out at the end 
of his work just as wise as we were at the 
beginning. It was doubtless some philosophi- 
cal wild-goose chase of the kind that made 
the old poet Macrobius rail in such a passion at 
curiosity, which he anathematizes most heartily 
as ‘ ‘ an irksome agonizing care, a superstitious 
industry about unprofitable things, an itching 
humor to see what is not to be seen, and to be 
doing what signifies nothing when it is done.” 
But to proceed. 


B Ibistoris of IRcw 

Of the claims of the children of Noah to the 
original population of this country I shall say 
nothing, as they have already been touched 
upon in my last chapter. The claimants next 
in celebrity are the descendants of Abraham. 
Thus, Christoval Colon (vulgarly called Colum- 
bus) when he first discovered the gold mines 
of Hispaniola, immediately concluded, wdth a 
shrewdness that would have done honor to 
a philosopher, that he had found the ancient 
Ophir, from whence Solomon procured the 
gold for embellishing the temple at Jerusalem ; 
nay. Colon even imagined that he saw the 
remains of furnaces of veritable Hebraic con- 
struction, employed in refining the precious 

So golden a conjecture, tinctured with such 
fascinating extravagance, was too tempting not 
to be immediately snapped at by the gudgeons 
of learning ; and, accordingly, there were di- 
vers profound writers ready to swear to its cor- 
rectness, and to bring in their usual load of 
authorities, and wise surmises, wherewithal to 
prop it up. Vetablus and Robertus Stephens 
declared nothing could be more clear ; Arius 
Montanus, without the least hesitation, asserts 
that Mexico was the true Ophir, and the Jews 
the early settlers of the country ; while Posse- 
vin, Becan, and several other .sagacious writ- 


Conflicting tTbeorlee 


ers, lug in a supposed prophecy of the fourth 
book of Esdras, which being inserted in the 
mighty hypothesis, like the key-stone of an 
arch, gives it, in their opinion, perpetual dura- 

Scarce, however, have they completed their 
goodly superstructure, than in trudges a pha- 
lanx of opposite authors, with Hans de Eaet, 
the great Dutchman, at their head, and at one 
blow tumbles the whole fabric about their ears. 
Hans, in fact, contradicts outright all the Is- 
raelitish claims to the first settlement of this 
country, attributing all those equivocal symp- 
toms, and traces of Christianity and Judaism, 
which have been said to be found in divers prov- 
inces of the new world, to the Devil^ who has al- 
ways affected to counterfeit the worship of the 
true Deity. ‘ ‘ A remark, ’ ’ says the knowing old 
Padre d’ Acosta, ‘ ‘ made by all good authors who 
have spoken of the religion of nations newly 
discovered, and founded besides on the authority 
of the fathers of the church y Some writers, 
again, among whom it is with much regret I am 
compelled to mention Lopez de Gomara, and 
Juan de Leri, insinuate that the Canaanites, 
being driven from the land of promise by the 
Jews, were seized with such a panic that they 
fled without looking behind them, until, stop- 
ping to take breath, they found themselves safe 

76 B Ibistorg of IRew Icrk 

in America. As they brought neither their 
national language, manners, nor features with 
them, it is supposed they left them behind in 
the hurry of their flight ; — I cannot give my 
faith to this opinion. 

I pass over the supposition of the learned 
Grotius, — who being both an ambassador and 
a Dutchman to boot, is entitled to great respect, 
— that North America was peopled by a stroll- 
ing company of Norwegians, and that Peru 
was founded by a colony from China, — Manco, 
or Mango Capac, the first Incas, being himself 
a Chinese. Nor shall I more than barely men- 
tion, that father Kircher ascribes the settle- 
ment of America to the Egyptians, Rudbeck 
to the Scandinavians, Charron to the Gauls, 
Juffredus Petri to a skating party from Fries- 
land, Milius to the Celtae, Marinocus the Sicilian 
to the Romans, Ee Compte to the Phoenicians, 
Postel to the Moors, Martyn d’Angleria to the 
Abyssinians, together with the sage surmise 
of De Eaet, that England, Ireland, and the 
Orcades may contend for that honor. 

Nor will I bestow any more attention or 
credit to the idea that America is the fairy re- 
gion of Zipangri, described by that dreaming 
traveller, Marco Polo, the Venetian ; or that it 
comprises the visionary island of Atlantis, de- 
scribed by Plato. Neither will I stop to inves- 


B Ibistorg of IRcw l^orft 

tigate the heathenish assertion of Paracelsus, 
that each hemisphere of the globe was origin- 
ally furnished with an Adam and Eve ; or the 
more flattering opinion of Dr. Romayne, sup- 
ported by many nameless authorities, that 
Adam was of the Indian race ; or the startling 
conjecture of Buffon, Helvetius, and Darwin, 
so highly honorable to mankind, that the whole 
human species is accidentally descended from a 
remarkable family of monkeys ! 

This last conjecture, I must own, came upon 
me very suddenly and very ungraciously. I 
have often beheld the clown in a pantomime, 
while gazing in stupid wonder at the extrava- 
gant gambols of a harlequin, all at once electri- 
fied by a sudden stroke of the wooden sword 
across his shoulders. Little did I think, at 
such times, that it would ever fall to my lot to 
be treated with equal discourtesy, and that, 
while I was quietly beholding these grave phi- 
losophers, emulating the eccentric transforma- 
tions of the hero of pantomime, they would on 
a sudden turn upon me and my readers, and 
with one hypothetical flourish metamorphose 
us into beasts ! I determined from that mo- 
ment not to burn my fingers with any more of 
their theories, but content myself with detail- 
ing the different methods by which they trans- 
ported the descendants of these ancient and 

Conflicting tTbcories 

respectable monkeys to this great field of 
theoretical warfare. 

This was done either by migrations by land 
or transmigrations by water. Thus Padre 
Joseph d’ Acosta enumerates three passages 
by land ; first, by the north of Europe ; 
secondly, by the north of Asia ; and thirdly, 
by the regions southward of the Straits of 
Magellan. The learned Grotius marches his 
Norwegians by a pleasant route across frozen 
rivers and arms of the sea, through Iceland, 
Greenland, Estotiland, and Naremberga ; and 
various writers, among whom are Angleria, De 
Hornn, and Buffon, anxious for the accommo- 
dation of these travellers, have fastened the two 
continents together by a strong chain of deduc- 
tions, — by which means they could pass over 
dry-shod. But should even this fail, Pinkerton, 
that industrious old gentleman, who compiles 
books, and manufactures Geographies, has 
constructed a natural bridge of ice, from con- 
tinent, to continent, at the distance of four or 
five miles from Behring’s Straits, — for which 
he is entitled to the grateful thanks of all the 
wandering Aborigines who ever did or ever 
will pass over it. 

It is an evil much to be lamented, that none 
of the worthy writers above quoted could ever 
commence his work without immediately declar- 


V /■■ 


B Ibistor^ ot IRew l^orh 

ing hostilities against every writer who had 
treated of the same subject. In this particu- 
lar, authors may be compared to a certain 
sagacious bird, which in building its nest is 
sure to pull to pieces the nests of all the birds 
in its neighborhood. This unhappy propensity 
tends grievously to impede the progress of 
sound knowledge. Theories are at best but 
brittle productions, and when once committed 
to the stream, they should take care that, like 
the notable pots which were fellow-voyagers, 
they do not crack each other. 

My chief surprise is, that among the many 
writers I have noticed, no one has attempted 
to prove that this country was peopled from 
the moon, — or that the first inhabitants floated 
hither on islands of ice, as white bears cruise 
about the northern oceans, — or that they were 
conveyed hither by balloons, as modern aero- 
nauts pass from Dover to Calais, — or by witch- 
craft, as Simon Magus posted among the stars, 
— or after the manner of the renowned Scythian 
Abaris, who, like the New England witches 
on full-blooded broomsticks, made most un- 
heard of journeys on the back of a golden 
arrow, given him by the Hyperborean Apollo. 

But there is still one more mode left by 
which this country could have been peopled, 
which I have reserved for the last, because I 


B of IRevv 

ment in s^^llogistic skill, and proves the good 
father superior even to Archimedes, for he can 
turn the world without anything to rest his 
lever upon. It is only surpassed by the dex- 
terity with which the sturdy old Jesuit, in 
another place, cuts the gordian knot : — “ Noth- 
ing,” sa 3 ^s he, ” is more easy. The inhabitants 
of both hemispheres are certainly the descend- 
ants of the same father. The common father 
of mankind received an express order from 
Heaven to people the world, and accordingly it 
has been peopled. To bring this about it was 
necessary to overcome all difficulties in the 
way, and they have also bee7i ove^xonie ! 
Pious logician ! How does he put all the herd 
of laborious theorists to the blush, by explain- 
ing, in five words, what it has cost them 
volumes to prove they knew nothing about ! 

From all the authorities here quoted, and a 
variety of others which I have consulted, but 
which are omitted through fear of fatiguing 
the unlearned reader, I can only draw the fol- 
lowing conclusions, which luckiljq however, 
are sufficient for my purpose. First, that this 
part of the world has actually been peopled^ 
(Q. K. D.) to support which we have living 
proofs in the numerous tribes of Indians that 
inhabit it. Secondly, that it has been peopled 
in five hundred different ways, as proved by a 


^be (Sluestion ^Finalls SettlcD 

cloud of authors who, from the positiveness of 
their assertions, seem to have been eye-wit- 
nesses to the fact. Thirdly, that the people 
of this country had a variety of fathers, which, 
as it may not be thought much to their credit 
by the common run of readers, the less we say 
on the subject the better. The question, there- 
fore, I trust, is forever at rest. 

Chapter D. 


I HK writer of a history 

m,- some re- 

' spects, be likened 

ill unto an adventur- 

ous knight, who, 
M having undertaken 

^ perilous enterprise 
"by '^^y establish- 
\\\ y fame, feels 

bound, in honor 
W f’W9ir^ and chivalry, to 

turn back for no 
difficulty nor hard- 
never to 
shrink or quail, 
whatever enemy he 
may encounter. Under this impression, I 

resolutely draw my pen, and fall to, with might 

Zbc IRic^bt of Discovers 

and main, at those doughty questions and 
subtle paradoxes, which, like fiery dragons and 
bloody giants, beset the entrance to my history, 
and would fain repulse me from the very thresh- 
old. And at this moment a gigantic question 
has started up, which I must needs take by the 
beard and utterly subdue, before I can advance 
another step in my historic undertaking ; but I 
trust this will be the last adversary I shall have 
to contend with, and that in the next book I 
shall be enabled to conduct my readers in tri- 
umph into the body of my work. 

The question which has thus suddenly arisen 
is. What right had the first discoverers of 
America to land and take possession of a coun- 
try, without first gaining the consent of its 
inhabitants, or yielding them an adequate 
compensation for their territory ? — a question 
which has withstood many fierce assaults, and 
has given much distress of mind to multitudes 
of kind-hearted folk. And indeed, until it be 
totally vanquished, and put to rest, the worthy 
people of America can by no means enjoy the 
soil they inhabit, with clear right and title, and 
quiet, unsullied consciences. 

The first source of right, by which property 
is acquired in a country, is discovery. For 
as all mankind have an equal right to anything 
which has never before been appropriated, so 



B Ibistor^ of Iftevv lork 

any nation that discovers an uninhabited coun- 
try, and takes possession thereof, is considered 
as enjoying full property, and absolute, unques- 
tionable empire therein.* 

This proposition being admitted, it follows 
clearly, that th^ Europeans who first visited 
America were the real discoverers of the same ; 
nothing being necessary to the establishment 
of this fact, but simply to prove that it was 
totally uninhabited by men. This would at 
first appear to be a point of some di^culty, for 
it is well known that this quarter of the world 
abounded with certain animals, that walked 
erect on two feet, had something of a human 
countenance, uttering certain unintelligible 
sounds, very much like language ; in short, 
had a marvellous resemblance to human beings. 
But the zealous and enlightened fathers, who 
accompanied the discoverers, for the purpose 
of promoting the kingdom of heaven by estab- 
lishing fat monasteries and bishoprics on earth, 
soon cleared up this point, greatl}" to the satis- 
faction of his holiness the pope, and of all 
Christian voyagers and discoverers. 

They plainly proved, *and as no Indian 
writers arose on the other side, the fact was 
considered as fully admitted and established, 

* Grotius. Puffendorff, b. v., cap. 4. Vattel, b. i., 
cap. 18, etc. 



^Tbc Bborigines 

that the two-legged race of animals before 
mentioned were mere cannibals, detestable 
monsters, and many of them giants, — which 
last description of vagrants have, since the 
time of Gog, Magog, and Goliath, been consid- 
ered as outlaws, and have received no quarter 
in either historjq chivalry, or song. Indeed, 
even the philosophic Bacon declared the Ameri- 
cans to be people proscribed by the laws of 
nature, inasmuch as they had a barbarous 
custom of sacrificing men, and feeding upon 
man’s flesh. 

Nor are these all the proofs of their utter 
barbarism. Among many other writers of 
discernment, Ulloa tells us ‘ ‘ their imbecility is 
so visible, that one can hardly form an idea of 
them different from what one has of the brutes. 
Nothing disturbs the tranquillity of their souls, 
equally insensible to disasters and to prosper- 
ity. Though half naked, they are as contented 
as a monarch in his most splendid array. Fear 
makes no impression on them, and respect as 
little. ’ ’ All this is furthermore supported by 
the authority of M. Bouguer. “It is not 
easy,” says he, “ to describe the degree of their 
indifference for wealth and all its advantages. 
One does not well know what motives to pro- 
pose to them when one would persuade them 
to any service. It is vain to offer them money ; 

88 B 1 b( 0 tor^ of 1Rew HJorh 

they answer they are not hungry.” And 
Vanegas confirms the whole, assuring us that 
‘ ‘ ambition they have none, and are more de- 
sirous of being thought strong than valiant. 
The objects of ambition with us — honor, fame, 
reputation, riches, posts, and distinctions — 
are unknown among them. So that this pow- 
erful spring of action, the cause of so much 
seeming good and real evil in the world, has no 
power over them. In a word, these unhappy 
mortals may be compared to children in whom 
the development of reason is not completed.” 

Now all these peculiarities, although in the 
most unenlightened states of Greece they 
would have entitled their possessors to im- 
mortal honor, as having reduced to practice 
those rigid and abstemious maxims, the mere 
talking about which acquired certain old 
Greeks the reputation of sages and philoso- 
phers, — yet, were they clearly proved in the 
present instance to betoken a most abject and 
brutified nature, totally beneath the human 
character. But the benevolent fathers, who 
had undertaken to turn these unhappy sav- 
ages into dumb beasts, by dint of argument, 
advanced still stronger proofs ; for, as certain 
divines of the sixteenth century, and among 
the rest Lullus, affirm, — the Americans go 
naked, and have no beards ! ‘ ‘ They have 


^Tbe Bborigtnes 

nothing, ’ ’ says Lulliis, ‘ ‘ of the reasonable ani- 
mal, except the mask.” And even that mask 
was allowed to avail them but little, for it was 
soon found that they were of a hideous copper 
complexion : and being of a copper complex- 


ion, it was all the same as if they were negroes : 
and negroes are black, — ” and black,” said the 
pious fathers, devoutly crossing themselves, 
“is the color of the Devil!” Therefore, so 
far from being able to own property, they had 
no right even to personal freedom ; for liberty 



B 1bi6tor^ of 1Rew ^ov\\ 

is too radiant a deity to inhabit such gloomy 
temples. All which circumstances plainly 
convinced the righteous followers of Cortes 
and Pizarro, that these miscreants had no title 
to the soil that they infested, — that they were 
a perverse, illiterate, dumb, beardless, black- 
seed, — mere wild beasts of the forests, and like 
them should either be subdued or exterminated. 

From the foregoing arguments, therefore, 
and a variety of others equally conclusive, 
which I forbear to enumerate, it is clearly 
evident that this fair quarter of the globe, 
when first visited by Europeans, was a howl- 
ing wilderness, inhabited by nothing but wild 
beasts ; and that the transatlantic visitors ac- 
quired an incontrovertible property therein by 
the right of discovery. 

This right being fully established, we now 
come to the next, which is the right acquired 
by cultivatio7i . “The cultivation of the soil,” 
we are told, “is an obligation imposed by 
nature on mankind. The whole world is ap- 
pointed for the nourishment of its inhabitants ; 
but it would be incapable of doing it, was it 
uncultivated. Every nation is then obliged 
by the law of nature to cultivate the ground 
that has fallen to its share. Those people, 
like the ancient Germans and modern Tartars, 
who, having fertile countries, disdain to culti- 


^be IRigbt ot Cultivation 


vate the earth, and choose to live by rapine, 
are wanting to themselves, and deserve to be 
exterminated as savage and pernicious beasts. 

Now it is notorious that the savages knew 
nothing of agriculture, when first discovered 
by the Europeans, but lived a most vagabond, 
disorderly, unrighteous life, — rambling from 
place to place, and prodigally rioting upon the 
spontaneous luxuries of nature, without task- 
ing her generosity to yield them anything 
more ; whereas it has been most unquestion- 
ably shown, that Heaven intended the earth 
should be ploughed and sown, and manured, 
and laid out into cities, and towns, and farms, 
and country-seats, and pleasure-grounds, and 
public gardens ; all which the Indians knew 
nothing about : therefore, they did not im- 
prove the talents Providence had bestowed on 
them : therefore, they were careless stewards : 
therefore, they had no right to the soil : there- 
fore, they deserved to be exterminated. 

It is true, the savages might plead that they 
drew all the benefits from the land which their 
simple wants required, — they found plenty of 
game to hunt, which, together with the roots 
and uncultivated fruits of the earth, furnished 
a sufficient variety for their frugal repasts, — 
and that, as Heaven merely designed the earth 
* Vattel, b. i,, ch. 17. 


92 B Ibistor^ of IRevv l^orf? 

to form the abode, and satisfy the wants of 
man, so long as those purposes were answered, 
the will of Heaven was accomplished. But 
this only proves how undeserving they were 
of the blessings around them : they were so 
much the more savages, for not having more 
wants ; for knowledge is in some degree an 
increase of desires ; and it is this superiority 
both in the number and magnitude of his 
desires, that distinguishes the man from the 
beast. Therefore the Indians, in not having 
more wants, were ver}^ unreasonable animals ; 
and it was but just that they should make way 
for the Europeans, who had a thousand wants 
to their one, and, therefore, would turn the 
earth to more account, and by cultivating it, 
more truly fulfil the will of Heaven. Besides 
— Grotius, and Eauterbach, and Puffendorf, 
and Titius, and many wise men beside, who 
have considered the matter properly, have 
determined that the property of a country 
cannot be acquired by hunting, cutting wood, 
or drawing water in it — nothing but precise 
demarcation of limits, and the intention of 
cultivation, can establish the possession. Now, 
as the savages (probably from never having 
read the authors above quoted) had never 
complied with any of these necessary forms, 
it plainly follows that they had no right to 

:iBenevoIent ;eiiropean9 


the soil, hut that it was completely at the dis- 
posal of the first comers, who had more 
knowledge, more wants, and more elegant, 
that is to say artificial, desires than themselves. 

In entering upon a newly discovered, uncul- 
tivated country, therefore, the newcomers were 
but taking possession of what, according to the 
aforesaid doctrine, was their own property ; — 
therefore, in opposing them, the savages were 
invading their just rights, infringing the im- 
mutable laws of nature, and counteracting the 
will of heaven : therefore, they were guilty 
of impiety, burglary, and trespass on the case : 
therefore, they were hardened offenders against 
God and man : therefore, they ought to be 

But a more irresistible right than either that 
I have mentioned, and one which will be the 
most readily admitted by my reader, provided 
he be blessed with bowels of charity and philan- 
thropy, is the right acquired by civilization. 
All the world knows the lamentable state in 
which these poor savages were found. Not only 
deficient in the comforts of life, but what is still 
worse, most piteously and unfortunately blind 
to the miseries of their situation. But no 
sooner did the benevolent inhabitants of Europe 
behold their sad condition, than they immedi- 
ately went to work to ameliorate and improve 




B Ibistor^ of IRcvv l^ork 

it. They introduced among them rum, gin, 
brandy, and the other comforts of life, — and it 
is astonishing to read how soon the poor sav- 
ages learned to estimate those blessings ; they 
likewise made known to them a thousand 
remedies, by which the most inveterate diseases 
are alleviated and healed ; and that they might 
comprehend the benefits and enjoy the comforts 
of these medicines, they previously introduced 
among them the diseases which they were cal- 
culated to cure. By these and a variety of 
other methods was the condition of these poor 
savages wonderfully improved ; they acquired 
a thousand wants, of which they had before 
been ignorant ; and as he has most sources of 
happiness who has most wants to be gratified, 
they were doubtlessly rendered a much happier 
race of beings. 

But the most important branch of civilization, 
and which has most strenuously been extolled 
by the zealous and pious fathers of the Romish 
Church, is the introduction of the Christian 
faith. It w^as truly a sight that might well 
inspire horror, to behold these savages tum- 
bling among the dark mountains of paganism, 
and guilty of the most horrible ignorance of 
religion. It is true, they neither stole nor 
defrauded ; they were sober, frugal, continent, 
and faithful to their word ; but though they 


:©enev>olent Buropeans 

acted right habitually, it was all in vain, unless 
they acted so from precept. The new comers, 
therefore, used every method to induce them to 
embrace and practise the true religion, — except 
indeed that of setting them the example. 


But notwithstanding all these complicated 
labors for their good, such was the unparalleled 
obstinacy of these stubborn wretches, that they 
ungratefully refused to acknowledge the stran- 
gers as their benefactors, and persisted in disbe- 
lieving the doctrines they endeavored to incul- 


B 1bl9tor^ of IRcw lork 

cate ; most insolently alleging, that, from their 
conduct, the advocates of Christianity did not 
seem to believe in it themselves. Was not this 
too much for human patience ? — would not one 
suppose that the benign visitants from Europe, 
provoked at their incredulity, and discouraged 
by their stiff-necked obstinacy, would forever 
have abandoned their shores, and consigned 
them to their original ignorance and misery? 
But no : so zealous were they to effect the 
temporal comfort and eternal salvation of these 
pagan infidels, that they even proceeded from 
the milder means of persuasion to the more 
painful and troubleisome one of persecution, — 
let loose among them whole troops of fiery 
monks and furious bloodhounds, — purified 
them by fire and sword, by stake and fagot ; 
in consequence of which indefatigable measures 
the cause of Christain love and charity was so 
rapidly advanced, that in a few years not one 
fifth of the unbelievers existed in South Amer- 
ica that were found there at the time of its 

What stronger right need the European 
settlers advance to the country than this? 
Have not whole nations of uninformed savages 
been made acquainted with a thousand imperi- 
ous wants and indispensable comforts, of which 
they were before wholly ignorant ? Have 



Ulnctratcful Bbori^ines 


they not been literally hunted and smoked out 
of the dens and lurking-places of ignorance and 
infidelity, and absolutely scourged into the right 
path ? Have not the temporal things, the vain 
baubles and filthy lucre of this world, which 
were apt to engage their worldly and selfish 
thoughts, been benevolently taken from them ; 
and have they not, instead thereof, been taught 
to set their affections on things above ? And, 
finally, to use the words of a reverend Spanish 
father, in a letter to his superior in Spain, “ Can 
any one have the presumption to say that these 
savage Pagans have yielded anything more 
than an inconsiderable recompense to their 
benefactors, in surrendering to them a little 
pitiful tract of this dirty sublunary planet in 
exchange for a glorious inheritance in the 
kingdom of heaven ? ’ ’ 

Here, then, are three complete and undeni- 
able sources of right established, any one of 
which was more than ample to establish a 
property in the newly-discovered regions of 
America. Now, so it has happened in certain 
parts of this delightful quarter of the globe, 
that the right of discovery has been so strenu- 
ously asserted, the influence of cultivation so 
industriously extended, and the progress of 
salvation and civilization so zealously prose- 
cuted, that, what with their attendant wars, per- 

VOL. I.— 7 




B Ibistor^ of IRew L>ork 

secutions, oppressions, diseases, and other partial 
evils that often hang on the skirts of great 
benefits, the savage aborigines have, somehow 
or another, been utterly annihilated ; — and 
this all at once brings me to a fourth right, 
which is worth all the others put together. 
For the original claimants to the soil being all 
dead and buried, and no one remaining to in- 
herit or dispute the soil, the Spaniards, as the 
next immediate occupants, entered upon the 
possession as clearly as the hangman succeeds 
to the clothes of the malefactor ; and as they 
have Blackstone,* and all the learned ex- 
pounders of the law on their side, they may set 
all actions of ejectment at defiance ; — and this 
last right may be entitled the right by exter- 
mination, or, in other words, the right by 

But lest any scruples of conscience should 
remain on this head, and to settle the question 
of right forever, his holiness Pope Alexander 
VI. issued a bull, by which he generously 
granted the newly-discovered quarter of the 
globe to the Spaniards and Portuguese ; who, 
thus having law and gospel on their side, and 
being inflamed with great spiritual zeal, showed 
the Pagan savages neither favor nor affection, 
but prosecuted the work of disco verj^ coloniza- 
*Blackstone, Com., b. ii., cap. i. 

B Clear Citle 

tion, civilization, and extermination with ten 
times more fury than ever. 

Thus were the European worthies who first 
discovered America clearly entitled to the soil ; 


and not only entitled to the soil, but likewise 
to the eternal thanks of these infidel savages, 
for having come so far, endured so many perils 
by sea and land, and taken such unwearied 

21 1bi9tor^ of IRcvv l^ork 

pains, for no other purpose but to improve 
their forlorn, uncivilized and heathenish con- 
dition, — for having made them acquainted with 
the comforts of life, — for having introduced 
among them the light of religion, — and, finally, 
for having hurried them out of the world, to 
enjoy its reward ! 

But as argument is never so well understood 
by us selfish mortals as when it comes home to 
ourselves, and as I am particular!}" anxious 
that this question should be put to rest forever, 
I will suppose a parallel case, by way of arous- 
ing the candid attention of my readers. 

Let us suppose, then, that the inhabitants of 
the moon, by astonishing advancement in 
science, and by profound insight into that lu- 
nar philosophy, the mere flickerings of which 
have of late years dazzled the feeble optics, and 
addled the shallow brains of the good people 
of our globe, — let us suppose, I say, that the 
inhabitants of the moon, by these means, had 
arrived at such a command of their energies, 
such an enviable state of perfeetibility, as to 
control the elements, and navigate the bound- 
less regions of space. Let us suppose a roving 
crew of these soaring philosophers, in the 
course of an aerial voyage of discovery among 
the stars, should chance to alight upon this 
outlandish planet. 

Zhc /iRen of tbe /Iftoon 

And here I beg my readers will not have the 
uncharitableness to smile, as is too frequently 
the fault of volatile readers, when perusing the 
grave speculations of philosophers. I am far 
from indulging in any sportive vein at present ; 


nor is the supposition I have been making so 
wild as many may deem it. It has long been 
a very serious and anxious question with me, 
and many a time and oft, in the course of my 
overwhelming cares and contrivances for the 

102 B 1bi6tor^ of 1Revv 

welfare and protection of this my native planet, 
have I lain awake whole nights debating in 
my mind, whether it were most probable we 
should first discover and civilize the moon, or 
the moon discover and civilize our globe. 
Neither would the prodigy of sailing in the air 
and cruising among the stars be a whit more 
astonishing and incomprehensible to us than 
was the European mystery of navigating float- 
ing castles, through the world of waters, to 
the simple natives. We have already discov- 
ered the art of coasting along the aerial shores 
of our planet, by means of balloons, as the 
savages had of venturing along their sea-coasts 
in canoes ; and the disparity between the for- 
mer and the aerial vehicles of the philosophers 
from the moon might not be greater than that 
between the bark canoes of the savages and 
the mighty ships of their discoverers. I might 
here pursue an endless chain of similar specu- 
lations ; but as they would be unimportant to 
my subject, I abandon them to my reader, par- 
ticularly if he be a philosopher, as matters well 
worthy of his attentive consideration. 

To return, then, to my supposition ; — let us 
suppose that the aerial visitants I have men- 
tioned possessed of vastly superior knowledge to 
ourselves ; that is to say, possessed of superior 
knowledge in the art of extermination, — riding 


ZIbe /iben of tbe /iboon 



liyppogrifFs, — defended with impenetrable 
armor, — armed with concentrated sunbeams, 
and provided with vast engines, to hurl enor- 
mous moon-stones : in short, let us suppose 
them, if our vanity will permit the supposition, 
as superior to us in knowledge, and conse- 
quently in power, as the Europeans were to 
the Indians, when they first discovered them. 
All this is very possible ; it is only our self- 
sufficiency that makes us think otherwise ; and 
I warrant the poor savages, before they had 
any knowledge of the white men, armed in all 
the terrors of glittering steel and tremendous 
gun-powder, were as perfectly convinced that 
they themselves were the wisest, the most vir- 
tuous, powerful, and perfect of created beings, 
as are, at this present moment, the lordly in- 
habitants of old England, the volatile populace 
of France, or even the self-satisfied citizens of 
this most enlightened republic. 

Let us suppose, moreover, that the aerial 
voyagers, finding this planet to be nothing but 
a howling wilderness, inhabited by us poor 
savages and wild beasts, shall take formal pos- 
session of it, in the name of his most gracious 
and philosophic excellency, the man in the 
moon. Finding, however, that their numbers 
are incompetent to hold it in complete subjec- 
tion, on account of the ferocious barbarity of 




B 1[3i0tor^ of Ittcvv ^ox\\ 

its inhabitants, they shall take our worthy 
President, the King of England, the Emperor 
of Hayti, the mighty Bonaparte, and the great 
King of Bantam, and returning to their native 
planet, shall carry them to court, as were the 
Indian chiefs led about as spectacles in the 
courts of Europe. 

Then making such obeisance as the etiquette 
of the court requires, they shall address the 
puissant man in the moon, in, as near as I can 
conjecture, the following terms : — 

“ Most serene and mighty Potentate, whose 
dominions extend as far as eye can reach, who 
rideth on the Great Bear, useth the sun as 
a looking-glass, and maintaineth unrivalled 
control over tides, madmen, and sea-crabs. 
We, thy liege subjects, have just returned from 
a voyage of discovery, in the course of which 
we have landed and taken possession of that 
obscure little dirty planet, which thou beholdest 
rolling at a distance. The five uncouth mon- 
sters, which we have brought into this august 
presence, were once very important chiefs 
among their fellow-savages, who are a race of 
beings totally destitute of the common attri- 
butes of humanity ; and differing in everything 
from the inhabitants of the moon, inasmuch as 
they carry their heads upon their shoulders, 
instead of under their arms, — have two eyes 


Zbc /iRen of tbc /Iboon 

instead of one, — are utterly destitute of tails, and 
of a variety of unseemly complexions, particu- 
larly of horrible whiteness, instead of pea-green. 


“ We have moreover found these miserable 
savages sunk into a state of the utmost igno- 
rance and depravity, every man shamelessly 



B ‘ff3istori? of IRew J^ork 

living with his own wife, and rearing his own 
children, instead of indulging in that commu- 
nity of wives enjoined by the law of nature, as 
expounded b}" the philosophers of the moon. 
In a word, they have scarcely a gleam of true 
philosophy among them, but are, in fact, utter 
heretics, ignoramuses, and barbarians. Tak- 
ing compassion, therefore, on the sad condition 
of these sublunary wretches, we have endeav- 
ored, while we remained on their planet, to 
introduce among them the light of reason, and 
the comforts of the moon. We have treated 
them to mouthfuls of moonshine, and draughts 
of nitrous oxide, which they swallowed with 
incredible voracity, particularly the females ; 
and we have likewise endeavored to instil into 
them the precepts of lunar philosophy. We 
have insisted upon their renouncing the con- 
temptible shackles of religion and common 
sense, and adoring the profound, omnipotent, 
and all-perfect energy, and the ecstatic, immu- 
table, immovable perfection. But such was 
the unparalleled obstinacy of these wretched 
savages, that they persisted in cleaving to their 
wives, and adhering to their religion, and 
absolutely set at naught the sublime doctrines 
of the moon, — nay, among other abominable 
heresies, they even went so far as blasphem- 
ously to declare, that this ineffable planet was 


Zbc /iRen of tbc /iRoon 


made of nothing more nor less than green 
cheese ! ’ ’ 

At these words, the great man in the moon 
(being a very profound philosopher) shall fall 
into a terrible passion, and possessing equal 
authority over things that do not belong to 
him, as did whilom his holiness the Pope, 
shall forthwith issue a formidable bull, speci- 
fying, ‘ ‘ That, whereas a certain crew of Luna- 
tics have lately discovered, and taken possession 
of a newly-discovered planet called t/ie earth ; 
and that, whereas it is inhabited by none but 
a race of two-legged animals that carry their 
heads on their shoulders instead of under their 
arms, cannot talk the Lunatic language, have 
two eyes instead of one, are destitute of tails, 
and of a horrible whiteness, instead of pea- 
green : — therefore, and for a variety of other 
excellent reasons, they are considered incapable 
of possessing any property in the planet they 
infest, and the right and title to it are con- 
firmed to its original discoverers. And further- 
more, the colonists who are now about to 
depart to the aforesaid planet are authorized 
and commanded to use every means to convert 
these infidel savages from the darkness of 
Christianity, and make them thorough and 
absolute Lunatics.” 

In consequence of this benevolent bull, our 


B 1bi9tor^ of IRcw J^ork 

philosophic benefactors go to work with hearty 
zeal. They seize upon our fertile territories, 
scourge us from our rightful possessions, relieve 
us from our wives ; and when we are unreason- 
able enough to complain, they will turn upon 
us and say : Miserable barbarians ! ungrateful 
wretches ! have we not come thousands of 
miles to improve your worthless planet ; have 
we not fed you with moonshine ; have we not 
intoxicated you with nitrous oxide ; does not 
our moon give you light every night ; and 
have you the baseness to murmur when we 
claim a pitiful return for all these benefits ? 
But finding that we not only persist in absolute 
contempt of their reasoning and disbelief in 
their philosophy, but even go so far as daringly 
to defend our property, their patience shall 
be exhausted, and they shall resort to their 
superior powers of argument : hunt us with 
hyppogriffs, transfix us with concentrated sun- 
beams, demolish our cities with moon-stones ; 
until having, by main force, converted us to 
the true faith, they shall graciously permit us 
to exist in the torrid deserts of Arabia, or the 
frozen regions of Lapland, there to enjoy the 
blessings of civilization and the charms of lunar 
philosophy, in much the same manner as the 
reformed and enlightened savages of this coun- 
try are kindly suffered to inhabit the inhos- 




Zbc IRi^bte iproveb 


pitable forests of the north, or the impenetrable 
wildernesses of South America. 

Thus, I hope, I have clearly proved, and 
strikingly illustrated, the right of the early 
colonists to the possession of this country ; and 
thus is this gigantic question completely van- 
quished : so, having manfully surmounted all 
obstacles, and subdued all opposition, what 
remains but that I should forthwith conduct 
my readers into the city which we have been 
so long in a manner besieging ? But hold ; 
before I proceed another step, I must pause to 
take breath, and recover from the excessive 
fatigue I have undergone, in preparing to 
begin this most accurate of histories. And in 
this I do but imitate the example of a renowned 
Dutch tumbler of antiquity, who took a start 
of three miles for the purpose of jumping over 
a hill, but having run himself out of breath by 
the time he reached the foot, sat himself quietly 
down for a few moments to blow, and then 
walked over it at his leisure. 




' — \l^lJ 

Cbapter 11 


\ Y great-grandfather, by 
33 the mother’s side, Her- 

t i- manus Van Clattercop, 
when employed to build 
the large stone church at 
Rotterdam, which stands 
about three hundred 
yards to your left after 
^ ^ you turn off from the 

Boomkeys, and which 
is so conveniently con- 
structed, that all the zealous Christians of 
Rotterdam prefer sleeping through a sermon 
there to any other church in the city, — my 
great-grandfather, I say, when employed to 
build that famous church, did in the first place 
send to Delft for a box of long pipes ; then 


B Ibistorg ot IRevv ^ox\\ 

having purchased a new spitting-box and a 
hundred-weight of the best Virginia, he sat 
himself down, and did nothing for the space 
of three months but smoke most laboriously. 
Then did he spend full three months more in 
trudging on foot, and voyaging in trekschuit, 
from Rotterdam to Amsterdam — to Delft — to 
Haerlem — to Leyden — to the Hague, knocking 
his head and breaking his pipe against every 
church in his road. Then did he advance 
gradually nearer and nearer to Rotterdam, 
until he came in full sight of the identical 
spot whereon the church was to be built. 
Then did he spend three months longer in 
walking round it and round it, contemplating 
it, first from one point of view, and then from 
another, — now would he be paddled by it on 
the canal, — now would he peep at it through a 
telescope from the other side of the Meuse, 
and now would he take a bird’s-eye glance at 
it from the top of one of those gigantic wind- 
mills which protect the gates of the city. The 
good folks of the place were on the tiptoe of 
expectation and impatience ; — notwithstanding 
all the turmoil of my great-grandfather, not a 
symptom of the church was yet to be seen ; 
they even began to fear it would never be, 
brought into the world, but that its great pro- 
jector would lie down and die in labor of the 


( ^ 

In a similar manner, and with the example 
of my worthy ancestor full before my eyes, 
have I proceeded in writing this most authentic 
history. The honest Rotterdamers no doubt 
thought my great-grandfather was doing noth- 
ing at all to the purpose, while he was making 
such a world of prefatory bustle about the 
building of his church — and many of the ingen- 
ious inhabitants of this fair city will unques- 
tionably suppose that all the preliminary 
chapters, with the discovery, population, and 
final settlement of America, were totally irrele- 
vant and superfluous, — and that the main 
business, the history of New York, is not a jot 
more advanced than if I had never taken up 
my pen. Never were wise people more mis- 
taken in their conjectures : in consequence 
of going to work slowly and deliberately, the 
church came out of my grandfather’s hands 
one of the most sumptuous, goodly, and glo- 
rious edifices in the known world, — excepting 
that, like our magnificent Capitol at Washing- 
ton, it was begun on so grand a scale that the 
good folks could not afford to finish more than 
the wing of it. So, likewise, I trust, if ever I 
am able to finish this work on the plan I have 
commenced (of which, in simple truth, I some- 
times have my doubts) it will be found that I 
have pursued the latest rules of my art, as 


exemplified in the writings of all the great 
American historians, and wrought a very 
large history out of a small subject, — which, 
nowadays, is considered one of the great 
triumphs of historic skill. To proceed, then, 
with the thread of my story. 

In the ever-memorable year of our Lord 
1609, on a Saturday morning, the five-and- 
twentieth day of March, old style, did that 
‘ ‘ worthy and irrecoverable discoverer (as he 
has justly been called). Master Henry Hud- 
son,” set sail from Holland in a stout vessel 
called the Half -Moon, being employed by the 
Dutch East India Company, to seek a north- 
west passage to China. 

Henry (or, as the Dutch historians call him, 
Hendrick) Hudson was a seafaring man of re- 
nown, who had learned to smoke tobacco under 
Sir Walter Raleigh, and is said to have been the 
first to introduce it into Holland, which gained 
him much popularity in that country, and caused 
him to find great favor in the eyes of their High 
Mightinesses, the Lords States-General, and also 
of the honorable West India Company. He was 
a short, square, brawny old gentleman, with a 
double chin, a mastiff mouth, and a broad cop- 
per nose, which was supposed in those days to 
have acquired its fiery hue from the constant 
neighborhood of his tobacco-pipe. 



B Ibistor^ of IRew ll)ork 

He wore a true Andrea Ferrara, tucked in 
a leathern belt, and a commodore’s cocked 
hat on one side of his head. He was remark- 
able for always jerking up his breeches when 
he gave out his orders, and his voice sounded 
not unlike the prattling of a tin trumpet, — 
owing to the number of hard northwesters 
which he had swallowed in the course of his 

Such was Hendrick Hudson, of whom we 
have heard so much, and know so little ; and 
I have been thus particular in his description 
for the benefit of modern painters and statu- 
aries, that they may represent him as he was, 
— and not, according to their common custom 
with modern heroes, make him look like Caesar, 
or Marcus Aurelius, or the Apollo of Belvi- 

As chief mate and favorite companion, the 
commodore chose master Robert Juet, of Lime- 
house, in England. By some his name has 
been spelled Chewit, and ascribed to the circum- 
stances of his having been the first man that 
ever chewed tobacco ; but this I believe to be 
a mere flippancy ; more especially as certain 
of his progeny are living at this day, who write 
their names Juet. He was an old comrade and 
early schoolmate of the great Hudson, with 
whom he had often played truant and sailed chip 


B 1bi6tor\? of IRcvv lorK 

boats in a neighboring pond, when they were 
little bo3"S : from whence it is said that the 
commodore first derived his bias towards a sea- 
faring life. Certain it is that the old people 
about Limehouse declared Robert Juet to be 
an unlucky urchin, prone to mischief, that 
would one day or other come to the gallows. 

He grew up, as boys of that kind often grow 
up, a rambling, heedless varlet, tossed about 
in all quarters of the world, — meeting with 
more perils and wonders than did Sinbad the 
Sailor, without growing a whit more wise, 
prudent, or ill-natured. Under every misfor- 
tune, he comforted himself with a quid of 
tobacco, and the truly philosophic maxim, that 
“ it will be all the same thing a hundred 3^ears 
hence.” He was skilled in the art of carving 
anchors and true lover’s knots on the bulk- 
heads and quarter-railings, and was considered 
a great wit on board ship, in consequence of 
his pla^dng pranks on ever3’body around, and 
now and then even making a wr3^ face at old 
Hendrick, when his back was turned. 

To this universal genius are we indebted for 
many particulars concerning this vo3mge ; of 
which he wrote a history, at the request of the 
commodore, who had an unconquerable aver- 
sion to writing himself, from having received 
so man3" floggings about it when at school. 

Zbc Do^acje 121 

To supply the deficiencies of Master Juet’s 
journal, which is written with true log-book 
brevit}^, I have availed myself of divers family 
traditions, handed down from my great-great- 
grandfather, who accompanied the expedition 
in the capacity of cabin-boy. 

From all that I can learn, few incidents 
worthy of remark happened on the voyage ; 
and it mortifies me exceedingly that I have to 
admit so noted an expedition into my work, 
without making any more of it. 

Sufiice it to say, the voyage was prosperous 
and tranquil ; the crew, being a patient people, 
much given to slumber and vacuity, and but 
little troubled with the disease of thinking, — 
a malady of the mind, which is the sure breeder 
of discontent. Hudson had laid in abundance 
of gin and sourkrout, and every man was 
allowed to sleep quietly at his post unless the 
wind blew. True it is, some slight disaffection 
was shown on two or three occasions, at cer- 
tain unreasonable conduct of Commodore Hud- 
son. Thus, for instance, he forbore to shorten 
sail when the wind was light, and the weather 
serene, which was considered among the most 
experienced Dutch seamen as certain weathc7'- 
breeders, or prognostics that the weather would 
change for the worse. He acted, moreover, in 
direct contradiction to that ancient and sage 


B 1F3i6tor^ of IHevv |)ork 

rule of the Dutch navigators, who alwa3\s took 
ill sail at night, put the helm a-port, and 
turned in, — by which precaution they had a 
good night’s rest, were sure of knowing where 
they were the next morning, and stood but 
little chance of running down a continent in 
the dark. He likewise prohibited the seamen 
from wearing more than five jackets and six 
pair of breeches, under pretence of rendering 
them more alert ; and no man was permitted 
to go aloft and hand in sails with a pipe in his 
mouth, as is the invariable Dutch custom at 
the present day. All these grievances, though 
they might ruffie for a moment the constitu- 
tional tranquillity of the honest Dutch tars, 
made but transient impression ; — they ate 
hugely, drank profusely, and slept immeasur- 
ably ; and being under the especial guidance 
of Providence, the ship was safely conducted to 
the coast of America ; where, after sundry un- 
important touchings and standings off and on, 
she at length, on the fourth day of September, 
entered that majestic bay which at this day 
expands its ample bosom before the city of 
New York, and which had never before been 
visited by any European.* 

* True it is — aud I am not ignorant of the fact— that 
in a certain apocryphal book of voyages, compiled 
by one Hakluyt, is to be found a letter written to 

^Tbe Hslanb of /lbannbat«n 

It has been traditionary in oiir famil}*, that 
when the great navigator was first blessed with 
a view of this enchanting island, he was ob- 
served, for the first and only time in his life, 
to exhibit strong symptoms of astonishment 


and admiration. He is said to have turned to 
Master Juet, and uttered these remarkable 
words, while he pointed towards this para- 

Fraucisthe First, by one Giovanne, or John Verazzani, 
on which some writers are inclined to found a belief 
that this delightful bay had been visited nearly a 


B of IRcw ll)orf? 

dise of the new world, — “See ! there ! “ — and 
thereupon, as was always his way when he 
was uncommonl}' pleased, he did puff out 
such clouds of dense tobacco-smoke, that in 
one minute the vessel was out of sight 
of land, and Master Juet was fain to wait 
until the winds dispersed this impenetrable 

It was indeed, — as my great-grandfather used 
to say, — though in truth I never heard him, 
for he died, as might be expected, before I 
was born, — “ It was indeed a spot on which 
the eye might have revelled forever, in ever 
new and never-ending beauties.” The island 
of Mannhata spread wide before them, like 

century previous to the voyage of the enterprising 
Hudson. Now this (albeit it has met with the counte- 
nance of certain very j udicious and learned men) I hold 
in utter disbelief, and that for various good and sub- 
stantial reasons : First, Because on strict examination 
it will be found, that the description given by this Ver- 
azzani applies about as well to the bay of New York as 
it does to my nightcap. Secondly, Because that this 
John Verazzani, for whom I already begin to feel a 
most bitter enmity, is a native of Florence ; and 
everybody knows the crafty wiles of these losel Flor- 
entines, by which they filched away the laurels from 
the brows of the immortal Colon, (vulgarly called 
Columbus,) and bestowed them on their officious 
townsman, Amerigo Vespucci ; and I make no doubt 
they are equally ready to rob the illustriovis Hudson 


^Ibe HslanD of /Ilbannbata 


some sweet vision of fancy, or some fair crea- 
tion of industrious magic. Its hills of smil- 
ing green swelled gently one above another, 
crowned with lofty trees of luxuriant growth ; 
some pointing their tapering foliage towards 
the clouds, which were gloriously transparent ; 
and others loaded with a verdant burden of 
clambering vines, bowing their branches to 
the earth, that was covered with flowers. On 
the gentle declivities of the hills were scattered 
in gay profusion, the dog- wood, the sumach, 
and the wild brier, whose scarlet berries and 
white blossoms glowed brightly among the 
deep green of the surrounding foliage ; and 
here and there a curling column of smoke, 

of the credit of discovering this beautiful island, 
adorned by the city of New York, and placing it be- 
side their usurped discovery of South America. And, 
thirdly, I award my decision in favor of the preten- 
sions of Hendrick Hudson, inasmuch as his expedi- 
tion sailed from Holland, being truly and absolutely 
a Dutch enterprise ; — and though all the proofs in the 
world were introduced on the other side, I would set 
them at naught, as undeserving my attention. If 
these three reasons be not sufficient to satisfy every 
burgher of this ancient city, all I can say is, they are 
degenerate descendants from their venerable Dutch 
ancestors, and totally unworthy the trouble of con- 
vincing. Thus, therefore, the title of Hendrick 
Hudson to his renowned discovery is fully vindi- 




B 1bi6tor^ of IRew L^orf? 

rising from the little glens that opened along 
the shore, seemed to promise the weary vo}^- 
agers a welcome at the hands of their fellow- 
creatures. As the}" stood gazing with entranced 
attention on the scene before them, a redman 
crowned with feathers issued from one of these 
glens, and after contemplating in wonder the 
gallant ship, as she sat like a stately swan 
swimming on a silver lake, sounded the war- 
whoop, and bounded into the woods like a 
wild deer, to the utter astonishment of the 
phlegmatic Dutchmen, who had never heard 
such a noise, or witnessed such a caper in 
their whole lives. 

Of the transactions of our adventurers with 
the savages, and how the latter smoked cop- 
per pipes, and ate dried currants ; how they 
brought great store of tobacco and oysters ; 
how they shot one of the ship’s crew, and 
how he was buried, I shall say nothing ; being 
that I consider them unimportant to my his- 
tory. After tarrying a few days in the bay, in 
order to refresh themselves after their seafar- 
ing, our voyagers weighed anchor, to explore 
a mighty river which emptied into the bay. 
This river, it is said, was known among the 
savages by the name of the Shatcmuck ; though 
we are assured in an excellent little history 
published in 1674, by John Josselyn, Gent., 

tip tbe IRiver 

that it was called the Mo/iegan,'^ and Master 
Richard Blome, who wrote some time after- 
wards, asserts the same, — so that I very much 
incline in favor of the opinion of these two 
honest gentlemen. Be this as it may, up this 
river did the adventurous Hendrick proceed, 
little doubting but it would turn out to be the 
much looked-for passage to China ! 


The journal goes on to make mention of 
divers interviews between the crew and the 
natives, in the voyage up the river ; but as 
they would be impertinent to my history, I 

*This river is likewise laid down in Ogilvy’s map 
as Manhattan — Noordt Montaigne and Mauritius 


% 1bi6tors of IRew ^ovk 

vShall pass over them in silence, except the 
following dry joke, played off by the old com- 
modore and his school- fellow, Robert Juet, 
which does such vast credit to their experi- 
mental philosophy, that I cannot refrain from 
inserting it. “Our master and his mate de- 
termined to try some of the chiefe men of the 
countrey, whether they had any treacherie in 
them. So they tooke them downe into the 
cabin, and gave them so much wine and aqua 
vitae, that they were all merrie ; and one of 
them had his wife with him, which sate so 
modestly, as any of our countrey women 
would do in a strange place. In the end, 
one of them was drunke, which had been 
aborde of our ship all the time that we had 
been there, and that was strange to them, 
for they could not tell how to take it.” * 

Having satisfied himself by this ingenious 
experiment that the natives were an honest, 
social race of jolly roysters, who had no objec- 
tion to a drinking-bout and were very merry 
in their cups, the old commodore chuckled 
hugely to himself, and thrusting a double quid 
of tobacco in his cheek, directed Master Juet to 
have it carefully recorded, for the satisfaction 
of all the natural philosophers of the university 
of Leyden, — which done, he proceeded on his 
^ Juet's Journ.^ Purch. Pil. 




■fl)iiD60tr6 Ibonors 

voyage, with great self-complacency. After 
sailing, however, above a hundred miles up 
the river, he found the watery world around 
him began to grow more shallow and confined, 
the current more rapid, and perfectly fresh, — 
phenomena not uncommon in the ascent of 
rivers, but which puzzled the honest Dutch- 
men prodigiously. A consultation was there- 
fore called, and having deliberated full six 
hours, they were brought to a determination 
by the ship’s running aground, — whereupon 
they unanimously concluded that there was 
but little chance of getting to China in this 
direction. A boat, however, was despatched 
to explore higher up the river, which, on its 
return, confirmed the opinion ; upon this the 
ship was warped off and put about, with great 
difficulty, being, like most of her sex, exceed- 
ingly ’ hard to govern ; and the adventurous 
Hudson, according to the account of my great- 
great-grandfather, returned down the river — 
with a prodigious flea in his ear ! 

Being satisfied that there was little likelihood 
of getting to China, unless, like the blind man, 
he returned from whence he set out, and took 
a fresh start, he forthwith recrossed the sea to 
Holland, where he was received with great 
welcome by the honorable Hast India Com- 
pany, who were very much rejoiced to see him 

VOL. I.— 9 


B Ibistor^ of IRevv l^ork 

come back .safe — with their ship ; and at a 
large and respectable meeting of the first mer- 
chants and burgomasters of Amsterdam, it 
was unanimously determined, that, as a muni- 
ficent reward for the important discovery he 
had made, the great river Mohegan should be 
called after his name ! — and it continues to be 
called Hudson river unto this very day. 

Chapter nil 


delectable ac- 
counts given by the 
great Hudson, and 
Master Juet, of the 
country they had 
discovered, excited 
not a little talk and 
speculation among 
the good people of 

patent were granted 
b}^ government to 
an association of merchants, called the West 
India Company, for the exclusive trade on 
Hudson river, on which they erected a trading- 
house, called Fort Aurania, or Orange, from 



B UDistor^ of IRew l^ork 

whence did spring the great city of Albany. 
But I forbear to dwell on the various com- 
mercial and colonizing enterprises which took 
place, — among which was that of Mynheer 
Adrian Block, who discovered and gave a 
name to Block Island, since famous for its 
cheese, — and shall barely confine myself to 
that which gave birth to this renowned city. 

It was some three or four 3^ears after the 
return of the immortal Hendrick, that a crew 
of honest, Low-Dutch colonists set sail from 
the city of Amsterdam for the shores of Amer- 
ica. It is an irreparable loss to history, and 
a great proof of the darkness of the age, and 
the lamentable neglect of the noble art of 
book-making, since so industriously cultivated 
by knowing sea-captains, and learned supercar- 
goes, that an expedition so interesting and im- 
portant in its results should be passed over in 
utter silence. To my great-great-grandfather am 
I again indebted for the few facts I am enabled 
to give concerning it, — he having once more 
embarked for this country with a full determi- 
nation, as he said, of ending his days here, 
and of begetting a race of Knickerbockers 
that should rise to be great men in the land. 

The ship in which these illustrious adven- 
turers set sail was called the Goede Vrouw, or 
good woman, in compliment to the wife of the 


JBrave pioneers 


President of the West India Company, who 
was allowed by everybody ( except her hus- 
band) to be a sweet-tempered lady — when not 
in liquor. It was in truth a most gallant ves- 
sel, of the most improved Dutch construction, 
and made by the ablest ship-carpenters of 
Amsterdam, who it is well known, always 
model their ships after the fair forms of their 
country-women. Accordingly it had one hun- 
dred feet in the beam, one hundred feet in the 
keel, and one hundred feet from the bottom 
of the stern-post to the tafferel. Like the 
beauteous model, who was declared to be 
the greatest belle in Amsterdam, it was full 
in the bows, with a pair of enormous cat- 
heads, a copper bottom, and withal a most 
prodigious poop. 

The architect, who was somewhat of a reli- 
gious man, far from decorating the ship with 
pagan idols, such as Jupiter, Neptune, or Her- 
cules (which heathenish abominations, I have 
no doubt, occasion the misfortunes and ship- 
wreck of many a noble vessel) — he, I say on 
the contrary, did laudably erect for a head, a 
goodly image of St. Nicholas, equipped with a 
low, broad-brimmed hat, a huge pair of Flem- 
ish trunk-hose, and a pipe that reached to the 
end of the bowsprit. Thus gallantly furnished, 
the stanch ship floated sideways, like a majestic 

134 B 1F3i9tor^ of IRew ^ovk 

goose, out of the harbor of the great city of 
Amsterdam, and all the bells, that were not 
otherwise engaged, rang a triple bob-major on 
the joyful occasion. 

My great-great-grandfather remarks, that 
the voyage was uncommonly prosperous, for, 
being under the especial care of the ever- 
revered St. Nicholas, the Goede Vrouw seemed 
to be endowed with qualities unknown to com- 
mon vessels. Thus she made as much leeway 
as headway, could get along very nearly as 
fast with the wind ahead as when it was 
a-poop, — and was particularly great in a calm ; 
in consequence of which singular advantages 
she made out to accomplish her voyage in a 
very few months, and came to anchor at the 
mouth of the Hudson, a little to the east of 
Gibbet Island. 

Here, lifting up their eyes, they beheld, on 
what is at present called the Jersey shore, a 
small Indian village, pleasantly embowered in 
a grove of spreading elms, and the natives all 
collected on the beach, gazing in stupid admir- 
ation at the Goede Vrouw. A boat was im- 
mediately despatched to enter into a treaty 
with them, and approaching the shore, hailed 
them through a trumpet, in the most friendly 
terms ; but so horribly confounded were these 
poor savages at the tremendous and uncouth 

JBravc pioneers 

sound of the Low-Dutch language, that they 
one and all took to their heels, and scampered 
over the Bergen hills ; nor did they stop until 
they had buried themselves, head and ears, in 
the marshes on the other side, where they all 
miserably perished to a man ; — and their bones, 
being collected and decently covered by the 
Tammany Society of that day, formed that 



singular mound called Rattlesnake Hill, 
which rises out of the centre of the salt marshes 
a little to the east of the Newark Causeway. 

Animated by this unlooked-for victory, our 
valiant heroes sprang ashore in triumph, took 
possession of the soil as conquerors, in the 
name of their High Mightinesses the Lords 
States-General ; and, marching fearlessly for- 
ward, carried the village of Communipaw by 


B 1bi9tori5 of IRew l^ork 

storm, notwithstanding that it was vigorously 
defended by some half a score of old squaws 
and pappooses. On looking about them they 
were so transported with the excellences of 
the place, that they had very little doubt the 
blessed St. Nicholas had guided them thither, 
as the very spot whereon to settle their colony. 
The softness of the soil was wonderfully 
adapted to the driving of piles ; the swamps 
and marshes around them afforded ample 
opportunities for the constructing of dykes 
and dams ; the shallowness of the shore was 
peculiarly favorable to the building of docks ; — 
in a word, this spot abounded with all the 
requisites for the foundation of a great Dutch 
city. On making a faithful report, therefore, 
to the crew of the Goede Vrouw, they one and 
all determined that this was the destined end 
of their voyage. Accordingly they descended 
from the Goede Vroiiw, men, women, and 
children, in goodly groups, as did the animals 
of yore from the ark, and formed themselves 
into a thriving settlement, which they called 
by the Indian name Communipaw. 

As all the world is doubtless perfectly 
acquainted with Communipaw, it may seem 
somewhat superfluous to treat of it in the 
present work ; but my readers will please to 
recollect, notwithstanding it is my chief desire 




to satisfy the present age, yet I write likewise 
for posterity, and have to consult the under- 
standing and curiosity of some half a score of 
centuries yet to come, by which time, perhaps, 
were it not for this invaluable history, the 
great Communipaw, like Babylon, Carthage, 
Nineveh, and other great cities, might be per- 
fectly extinct, — sunk and forgotten in its own 
mud, — its inhabitants turned into oysters,* and 
even its situation a fertile subject of learned 
controversy and hard-headed investigation 
among indefatigable historians. Let me then 
piously rescue from oblivion the humble relics 
of a place, which was the egg from whence 
was hatched the mighty city of New York ! 

Communipaw is at present but a small vil- 
lage, pleasantly situated, among rural scenery, 
on that beauteous part of the Jersey shore 
which was known in ancient legends by the 
name of Pavonia,t and commands a grand 
prospect of the superb bay of New York. It 
is within but half an hour’s sail of the latter 
place, provided you have a fair wind, and may 
be distinctly seen from the city. Nay, it is a 
well-known fact, which I can testify from my 

* “ Men by inaction degenerate into oysters.” — 

f Pavonia, in the ancient maps, is a tract of country 
extending from about Hoboken to Amboy. 


B 1(316101^ Of IRevv li)or{? 

own experience, that on a clear, still summer 
evening, you ma}^ hear, from the Battery of 
New York, the obstreperous peals of broad- 
mouthed laughter of the Dutch negroes at 
Communipaw, who, like most other negroes, 
are famous for their risible powers. This is 
peculiarly the case on Sunday evenings, when, 
it is remarked by an ingenious and obser\^ant 
philosopher, who has made great discoveries 
in the neighborhood of this city, that they 
always laugh loudest, which he attributes to 
the circumstance of their having their holiday 
clothes on. 

These negroes, in fact, like the monks of the 
dark ages, engross all the knowledge of the 
place, and being infinitely more adventurous 
and more knowing than their masters, carry 
on all the foreign trade ; making frequent 
voyages to town in canoes loaded with oysters, 
buttermilk, and cabbages. They are great 
astrologers, predicting the different changes of 
weather almost as accurately as an almanac ; 
they are moreover exquisite performers on 
three-stringed fiddles ; in whistling they almost 
boast the far-famed powers of Orpheus’ lyre, 
for not a horse or an ox in the place, when at 
the plough or before the wagon, will budge a 
foot until he hears the well-known whistle of 
his black driver and companion. — And from 





their amazing skill at casting up accounts 
upon their fingers, they are regarded with as 
much veneration as were the disciples of 
Pythagoras of yore, when initiated into the 
sacred quaternary of numbers. 


As to the honest burghers of Communipaw, 
like wise men and sound philosophers, they 
never look beyond their pipes, nor trouble their 
heads about any affairs out of their immediate 
neighborhood ; so that they live in profound 
and enviable ignorance of all the troubles, anx- 
ieties, and revolutions of this distracted planet. 


21 1 bi 0 torg of IRevv lork 

I am even told that many among them do 
verily believe that Holland, of which they have 
heard so much from tradition, is situated some- 
where on Long Island, — that Spiking -devil and 
the Narrows are the two ends of the world, — that 
the country is still under the dominion of their 
High Mightinesses, — and that the city of New 
York still goes by the name of Nieuw Amster- 
dam. They meet every Saturday afternoon at 
the only tavern in the place, which bears as 
a sign a square-headed likeness of the Prince 
of Orange, where they smoke a silent pipe, 
by way of promoting social conviviality, and 
invariably drink a mug of cider to the success 
of Admiral Van Tromp, who they imagine is 
still sweeping the British channel, with a 
broom at his mast-head. 

Communipaw, in short, is one of the numer- 
ous little villages in the vicinit}" of this most 
beautiful of cities, which are so niany strong- 
holds and fastnesses, whither the primitive 
manners of our Dutch forefathers have re- 
treated, and where they are cherished with de- 
vout and scrupulous strictness. The dress of the 
original settlers is handed down inviolate, from 
father to son : the identical broad-brimmed 
hat, broad-skirted coat, and broad-bottomed 
breeches, continue from generation to gener- 
ation ; and several gigantic knee-buckles of 


massy silver are still in wear, that made gallant 
display in the days of the patriarchs of Coni- 
miinipaw. The language likewise continues 
unadulterated by barbarous innovations ; and 
so critically correct is the village schoolmaster 
in his dialect, that his reading of a kow-Dutch 
psalm has much the same effect on the nerves 
as the filing of a handsaw. 

Chapter HUH 


T TT AVING, in the trifling 
/Tr^ digression which con- 

^ eluded the last chap- 

' discharged the filial 

duty which the city of 
New York owed to 
. Communipaw, as being 

— mother settlement, 
“ and having given a 

faithful picture of it as 
it stands at present, I return with a soothing 
sentiment of self-approbation, to dwell upon 
its early history. The crew of the Goede 
Vrouw being soon reinforced by fresh impor- 
tations from Holland, the settlement went 
jollily on, increasing in magnitude and pros- 
perity. The neighboring Indians in a short 
time became accustomed to the uncouth sound 

^iir ^raDe 

of the Dutch language, and an intercourse 
gradually took place between them and the new- 
comers. The Indians were much given to long 
talks, and the Dutch to long silence ; — in this 
particular, there- 
fore, they accommo- I i 

dated each other V p I 4 / 

completely. The viiV'nJI 

chiefs would make V| 

long speeches about J 

the big bull, the Wa- ■ 

bash, and the Great 

Spirit, to which the 

others would listen ' 

smoke their pipes, 

and grunt mj'n- 

her ^ — whereat the ' '^i 

poor savages were 

w o n d r o u s 1 3^ d e - '' 

structed the new 
settlers in the best 
art of 


curing and 
smoking tobacco, 
while the latter, in return, made them drunk 
with true Hollands — and then taught them the 
art of making bargains. 

A brisk trade for furs was soon opened ; the 



B Ibistorg of IRew ^ovh 

Dutch traders were scrupulously honest in 
their dealings, and purchased by weight, estab- 
lishing it as an invariable table of avoirdupois, 
that the hand of a Dutchman weighed one 
pound, and his foot two pounds. It is true, 
the simple Indians were often puzzled by the 
great disproportion between bulk and weight, 
for let them place a bundle of furs, never so 
large, in one scale, and a Dutchman put his 
hand or foot in the other, the bundle was sure 
to kick the beam ; — never was a package of 
furs known to weigh more than two pounds in 
the market of Communipaw. 

This is a singular fact, — but I have it direct 
from my great-great-grandfather, who had 
risen to considerable importance in the colony, 
being promoted to the office of weigh-master, 
on account of the uncommon heaviness of 
his foot. 

The Dutch possessions in this part of the 
globe began now to assume a very thriving 
appearance, and were comprehended under the 
general title of Nieuw Nederlandts, on account, 
as the sage Vander Donck observes, of their 
great resemblance to the Dutch Netherlands, — 
which indeed was truly remarkable, excepting 
that the former were rugged and mountainous, 
and the latter level and marshy. About this 
time the tranquillity of the Dutch colonists was 


B Ibistov^ of 1Revv l^ork 

doomed to suffer a temporary" interruption. In 
1614, Captain Sir Samuel Argal, sailing under 
a commission from Dale, governor of Virginia, 
visited the Dutch settlements on Hudson 
River and demanded their submission to the 
English crown and Virginian dominion. To 
this arrogant demand, as they were in no con- 
dition to resist it, they submitted for the time, 
like discreet and reasonable men. 

It does not appear that the valiant Argal 
molested the settlement of Communipaw ; on 
the contrary, I am told that when his vessel 
first hove in sight, the worthy burghers were 
seized with such a panic, that they fell to 
smoking their pipes with astonishing vehe- 
mence ; insomuch that they quickly raised a 
cloud, which, combining with the surrounding 
woods and marshes, completely enveloped and 
concealed their beloved village, and overhung 
the fair regions of Pavonia, — so that the terri- 
ble Captain Argal passed on, totally unsuspi- 
cious that a sturdy little Dutch settlement lay 
snugly couched in the mud, under cover of all 
this pestilent vapor. In commemoration of 
this fortunate escape, the worthy inhabitants 
have continued to smoke, almost without inter- 
mission, unto this very day ; which is said to 
be the cause of the remarkable fog which often 
hangs over Communipaw of a clear afternoon. 




B Ibistor^ of mew lorf? 

of his knowledge. He had originally been 
one of a set of peripatetic philosophers who 
passed much of their time sunning themselves 
on the side of the great canal of Amsterdam 
in Holland ; enjoying, like Diogenes, a free 
and unencumbered estate in sunshine. His 
name Kortlandt (Shortland or Dackland) was 
supposed, like that of the illustrious Jean 
Sansterre, to indicate that he had no layid ; but 
he insisted, on the contrary, that he had great 
landed estates somewhere in Terra Incognita ; 
and he had come out to the new world to look 
after them. He was the first great land-specu- 
lator that we read of in these parts. 

Like all land-speculators, he was much given 
to dreaming. Never did anything extraordi- 
nary happen at Communipaw but he declared 
that he had previously dreamt it, being one of 
those infallible prophets who predict events 
after they have come to pass. This superna- 
tural gift was as highly valued among the 
burghers of Pavonia as among the enlightened 
nations of antiquity. The wise Ulysses was 
more indebted to his sleeping than his waking 
moments for his subtle achievements, and sel- 
dom undertook any great exploit without first 
soundly sleeping upon it ; and the same may be 
said of Oloffe Van Kortlandt, who was thence 
aptly denominated Oloffe the Dreamer. 

©Ioffe Dan IkortlanDt 


As yet his dreams and speculations had 
turned to little personal profit ; and he was as 
much a lack-land as ever. Still he carried a 
high head in the community ; if his sugar-loaf 
hat was rather the worse for wear, he set it off 
with a taller cock’s-tail ; if his shirt was none 
of the cleanest, he puffed it out the more at the 
bosom ; and if the tail of it peeped out of a hole 
in his breeches, it at least proved that it really 
had a tail and was not mere ruffle. 

The worthy Van Kortlandt, in the council 
in question, urged the policj^ of emerging from 
the swamps of Communipaw and seeking some 
more eligible site for the seat of empire. Such, 
he said,, was the advice of the good St. 
Nicholas, who had appeared to him in a dream 
the night before ; and whom he had known by 
his broad hat, his long pipe, and the resem- 
blance which he bore to the figure on the bow 
of the Goede Vrouw. 

Many have thought this dream was a mere 
invention of Oloffe Van Kortlandt, who, it is 
said, had ever regarded Communipaw with an 
evil eye because he had arrived there after all 
the land had been shared out, and who was 
anxious to change the seat of empire to some 
new place, where he might be present at the 
distribution of “ town lots.” But we must not 
give heed to such insinuations, which are too 


B 1bi3tori? of 1Rcw l^ork 

apt to be advanced against those worthy gen- 
tlemen engaged in laying out towns, and in 
other land-speculations. For my own part, I 
am disposed to place the same implicit faith in 
the vision of Oloffe the Dreamer that was mani- 
fested by the honest burghers of Communipaw, 
who one and all agreed that an expedition 
should be forthwith fitted out to go on a voy- 
age of discovery in quest of a new seat of 

This perilous enterprise was to be conducted 
by Oloffe himself ; who chose as lieutenants or 
coadjutors Mynheers Abraham Harden Broeck, 
Jacobus Van Zandt, andWinant Ten Broeck, — 
three indubitably great men, but of whose 
history, although I have made diligent inquiry, 
I can learn but little previous to their leaving 
Holland. Nor need this occasion much sur- 
prise ; for adventurers, like prophets, though 
they make great noise abroad, have seldom 
much celebrity in their own countries ; but this 
much is certain, that the overflowings and off- 
scourings of a country are invariably com- 
posed of the richest parts of the soil. And 
here I cannot help remarking how convenient 
it would be to many of our great men and great 
families of doubtful origin, could they have the 
privilege of the heroes of yore, who, whenever 
their oirgin was involved in obscurity, modestly 

:) 0 



announced themselves descended from a god, 
— and who never visited a foreign country but 
what they told some cock-and-bull stories about 
their being kings and princes at home. This 
venal trespass on the truth, though it has been 
occasionally played off by some pseudo-mar- 
quis, baronet, and other illustrious foreigner, 
in our land of good-natured credulity, has been 
completely discountenanced in this skeptical, 
matter-of-fact age ; and I even question 
whether any tender virgin, who was acciden- 
tally and unaccountably enriched with a 
bantling, would save her character at parlor 
firesides and evening tea-parties b}^ ascribing 
the phenomenon to a swan, a shower of gold, 
or a river god. 

Had I the benefit of mythology and classic 
fable above alluded to, I should have furnished 
the first of the trio with a pedigree equal to 
that of the proudest hero of antiquity. His 
name. Van Zandt, that is to from the saiid, 
or, in common parlance, from the dirt, gave 
reason to suppose that, like Triptolemus, 
Themes, the Cyclops, and the Titans, he had 
sprung from Dame Terra, on the earth ! This 
supposition is strongly corroborated by his size, 
for it is well known that all the progeny of 
mother earth were of a gigantic stature ; and 
Van Zandt, we are told, was a tall, raw-boned 



B fbistor^ of IRevv 

man, above six feet high, with an astonish- 
ingly hard head. Nor is this origin of the il- 
lustrious Van Zandt a whit more improbable or 
repugnant to belief than what is related and 
universally admitted of certain of our greatest, 
or rather richest men ; who, we are told with 
the utmost gravity, did originally spring from 
a dunghill ! 

Of the second of the trio but faint accounts 
have reached to this time, which mention that 
he was a sturdy, obstinate, worrying, bustling 
little man ; and, from being usually equipped 
in an old pair of buckskins, was familiarly 
dubbed Harden Broeck ; that is to sa}", Hard in 
the Breech, or, as it was generally rendered, 
Tough Breeches. 

Ten Broeck completed this junto of adven- 
turers. It is a singular but ludicrous fact, — 
which, were I not scrupulous in recording the 
whole truth, I should almost be tempted to 
pass over in silence as incompatible with the 
gravity and dignity of histor}^ — that this 
worthy gentleman should likewise have been 
nicknamed from what in modern times is 
considered the most ignoble part of the 
dress. But in truth the small-clothes seems 
to have been a ver}" dignified garment in 
the eyes of our venerated ancestors, in all 
probability from its covering that part of the 

^Ten JBroccf? 

body jvhich has been pronounced ‘ ‘ the seat 
of honor.” 

The name of Ten Broeck, or, as it was 
sometimes spelled, Tin Broeck, has been in- 


differently translated into Ten Breeches and 
Tin Breeches. Certain elegant and ingenious 
writers on the subject declare in favor of Tin 
or rather Thin Breeches ; whence they infer 




B Ibistori? of IRcvv ^ov\\ 

that the original bearer of it was a poor but 
merry rogue, whose galligaskins were none of 
the soundest, and who, peradventure, may 
have been the author of that truly philo- 
sophical stanza : — 

“Then why should we quarrel for riches. 

Or any such glittering toys ; 

A light heart and thin pair of breeches^ 

Will go through the world, my brave boys ! ” 

The more accurate commentators, however, 
declare in favor of the other reading, and af- 
firm that the worthy in question was a burly, 
bulbous man, who, in sheer ostentation of his 
venerable progenitors, was the first to intro- 
duce into the settlement the ancient Dutch 
fashion of ten pair of breeches. 

Such was the trio of coadjutors chosen by 
Oloffe the Dreamer to accompany him in this 
voyage into unknown realms ; as to the names 
of his crews, they have not been handed down 
by history. 

Having, as I before observ^ed, passed much 
of his life in the open air, among the peripa- 
tetic philosophers of Amsterdam, Oloffe had 
become familiar with the aspect of the heav- 
ens, and could as accurately determine when 
a storm was brewing or a squall rising, as a 
dutiful husband can foresee, from the brow of 


Ipreparatione for tbc Do^aGC 

his spouse, when a tempest is gathering about 
his ears. Having pitched upon a time for his 
voyage when the skies appeared propitious, 
he exhorted all his crews to take a good 
night’s rest, wind up their family affairs, and 
make their wills ; precautions taken by our 
forefathers even in after-times when they 
became more adventurous, and voyaged to 
Haverstraw, or Kaatskill, or Groodt Ksopus, 
or any other far country, beyond the great 
waters of the Tappaan Zee. 

Cbapter HID, 


ND now the rosy blush of 
morn began to mantle 
i - aV- soon 

the rising sun, emer- 
from amidst golden 
purple clouds, shed 
his blithesome rays on 
weathercocks of 
^ Communipaw. It was 
that delicious season of 
the year, when nature, breaking from the 
chilling thraldom of old winter, like a bloom- 
ing damsel from the tyranny of a sordid old 
father, threw herself, blushing with ten thou- 
sand charms, into the arms of youthful spring. 
Every tufted copse and blooming grove re- 
sounded with the notes of hymeneal love. 
The very insects, as the}" sipped the dew that 
gemmed the tender grass of the meadows. 

B 1bistori5 of IRew l^ork 

multitude of relatives and friends, who all went 
down, as the common phrase expresses it, “ to 
see them off.” And this shows the antiquity, 
of those long family processions, often seen in 
our city, composed of all ages, sizes, and sexes 
laden with bundles and bandboxes, escorting 
some bevy of country cousins, about to depart 
for home in a market-boat. 

The good Oloffe bestowed his forces in a 
squadron of three canoes, and hoisted his flag 
on board a little round Dutch boat, shaped not 
unlike a tub, which had formerly been the 
jolly-boat of the Goede Vrouw. And now, all 
being embarked, they bade farewell to the gaz- 
ing throng upon the beach, who continued 
shouting after them, even when out of hearing, 
wishing them a happy voyage, advising them 
to take good care of themselves, not to get 
drowned, with an abundance other of those 
sage and invaluable cautions, generally given 
by landsmen to such as go down to the sea in 
ships, and adventure upon the deep w^aters. 
In the meanwhile the voyagers cheerily urged 
their course across the crystal bosom of the 
bay, and soon left behind them the green shores 
of ancient Pavonia. 

And first they touched at two small islands 
which lay nearly opposite Communipaw, and 
which are said to have been brought into ex- 

1bow tbe 1[6lanb6 Came 

istence about the time of the great irruption of 
the Hudson, when it broke through the High- 
lands and made its way to the ocean.* For in 
this tremendous uproar of the waters, we are 
told that many huge fragments of rock and 
land were rent from the mountains and swept 
down by this runaway river, for sixty or sev- 
enty miles ; where some of them ran aground 


on the shoals just opposite Communipaw, and 
formed the identical islands in question, while 
others drifted out to sea, and were never heard 
of more ! A sufficient proof of the fact is, that 
* It is a matter long since established by certain of 
our philosophers, — that is to say, having been often 
advanced, and never contradicted, it has grown to be 
pretty nigh equal to a settled fact, — that the Hudson 


i6o B 1bi8tor^ of IRcw l^ork 

the rock which forms the basis of these islands 
is exactl}^ similar to that of the Highlands, and, 
moreover, one of our philosophers, who has 
diligently compared the agreement of their 
respective surfaces, has even gone so far as to 
assure me, in confidence, that Gibbet Island 
was originally nothing more nor less then a 
wart on Anthony’s Nose.* 

Leaving these wonderful little isles, they 
next coasted by Governor’s Island since terrible 
from its frowning fortress and grinning batter- 
ies. They would by no means, however, land 
upon this island, since they doubted much it 
might be the abode of demons and spirits, 
which in those days did greatly abound 
throughout this savage and pagan country. 

Just at this time a shoal of jolly porpoises 
came rolling and tumbling by, turning up 

was originally a lake dammed up by the mountains of 
the Highlands. In process of time, however, becom- 
ing very mighty and obstreperous, and the mountains 
waxing pursy, dropsical, and weak in the back, by 
reason of their extreme old age, it suddenly rose upon 
them, and after a violent struggle effected its escape. 
This is said to have come to pass in very remote time, 
probably before rivers had lost the art of running 
uphill. The foregoing is a theory in which I do not 
pretend to be skilled, notwithstanding that I do fully 
give it my belief. 

* A promontory in the Highlands. 

B IbappB ©men 

their sleek sides to the sun, and spouting up 
the briny element in sparkling showers. No 
sooner did the sage Oloffe mark this, than he 
was greatly rejoiced. “This,” exclaimed he, 
“ if I mistake not, augurs well : the porpoise 
is a fat, well-conditioned fish, — a burgomaster 


among fishes, — his looks betoken ease, plenty, 
and prosperity ; I greatly admire this round fat 
fish, and doubt not but this is a happy omen 
of the success of our undertaking.” So saying, 
he directed his squadron to steer in the track of 
these alderman fishes. 

Turning, therefore, directly to the left, they 

VOL. I. — II 

i 62 

B 1bistori5 of flew l^ork 

swept up the strait vulgarly called East River., 
And here the rapid tide which courses through 
this strait, seizing on the gallant tub in w^hich 
Commodore Van Kortlandt had embarked, 
hurried it forward with a velocity unparalleled 
in a Dutch boat, navigated by Dutchmen ; in- 
somuch that the good commodore, who had all 
his life long been accustomed only to the drowsy 
navigation of canals, was more than ever con- 
vinced that they were in the hands of some 
supernatural power, and that the jolly por- 
poises were towing them to some fair haven 
that was to fulfil all their wishes and expecta- 

Thus borne away by the resistless current, 
they doubled that boisterous point of land since 
called Corlear’s Hook * and leaving to the right 
the rich winding cove of the Wallabout, they 
drifted into a magnificent expanse of water, 
surrounded by pleasant shores, whose verdure 
was exceedingly refreshing to the e3"e. While 
the voyagers were looking around them, on 
what they conceived to be a serene and sunny 
lake, they beheld at a distance a crew of painted 
savages, busily employed in fishing, who seemed 
more like the genii of this romantic region, — 
their slender canoe lightly balanced like a_ 
feather on the undulated surface of the bay. 

* Properly spelt hoeck {i. e., a point of land). 


•ff^enOrick 1kip 

At sight of these the hearts of the heroes of 
Communipaw were not a little troubled. But 
as good fortune would have it, at the bow of 
the commodore’s boat was stationed a very 



valiant man, named Hendrick Kip (which, 
being interpreted, means chicken, a name given 
him in token of his courage). No sooner did 
he behold these varlet heathens than he trem- 




B Ibietors of IRew J^orl^ 

bled with excessive valor, and although a good 
half-mile distant, he seized a musketoon that 
lay at hand, and turning away his head, fired 
it most intrepidly in the face of the blessed 
sun. The blundering weapon recoiled and 
gave the valiant Kip an ignominious kick, 
which laid him prostrate with uplifted heels 
in the bottom of the boat. But such was the 
effect of this tremendous fire, that the wild men 
of the woods, struck with consternation, seized 
hastily upon their paddles, and shot away into 
one of the deep inlets of the Long Island shore. 

This signal victory gave new spirits to the 
voyagers ; and in honor of the achievement 
they gave the name of the valiant Kip to the 
surrounding ba}', and it has continued to be 
called Kip’s Ba}^ from that time to the present. 
The heart of the good Van Kortlandt — who, 
having no land of his own, was a great admirer 
of other people’s — expanded to the full size of a 
pepper-corn at the sumptuous prospect of rich 
unsettled country around him, and falling into 
a delicious revery, he straightway began to riot 
in the possession of vast meadows of salt 
marsh and interminable patches of cabbages. 
From this delectable vision he was all at once 
awakened by the sudden turning of the tide, 
which would soon have hurried him from this 
land of promise, had not the discreet navigator 



' 1 ) 

U 2)i6CU06lon 


given signal to steer for shore ; where they 
accordingly landed hard by the rocky heights 
of Bellevue, — that happy retreat, where our 
jolly alderman eat for the good of the city, and 
fatten the turtle that are sacrificed on civic 

Here, seated on the greensward, by the side 
of a small stream that ran sparkling among the 
grass, they refreshed themselves after the toils 
of the seas, by feasting lustily on the ample 
stores which they had provided for this perilous 
voyage. Thus having well fortified their 
deliberative powers, they fell into an earnest 
consultation, what was further to be done. 
This was the first council-dinner ever eaten at 
Bellevue by Christian burghers ; and here, as 
tradition relates, did originate the great family 
feud between the Harden Broecks and the 
Ten Broecks, which afterwards had a singular 
influence on the building of the city. The 
sturdy Harden Broeck, whose eyes had been 
wondrously delighted with the salt marshes 
which spread their reeking bosoms along the 
coast, at the bottom of Kip’s Bay, counselled 
by all means to return thither, and found the 
intended city. This was strenuously opposed 
by the unbending Ten Broeck, and many testy 
arguments passed between them. The partic- 
ulars of this controversy have not reached us. 


21 Iblstor^ of Bew ^ovn 

which is ever to be lamented ; this much is cer- 
tain, that the sage OlofFe put an end to the dis- 
pute by determining to explore still farther in 
the route which the mysterious porpoises had 
so clearly pointed out ; — whereupon the sturdy 
Tough Breeches abandoned the expedition, 
took possession of a neighboring hill, and in 
a fit of great wrath peopled all that tract of 
countr)^, which has continued to be inhabited 
by the Harden Broecks unto this ver}" day. 

By this time the jolly Phoebus, like some 
wanton urchin sporting on the side of a green 
hill, began to roll down the declivity of the 
heavens ; and now, the tide having once more 
turned in their favor, the Pavonians again 
committed themselves to its discretion, and 
coasting along the western shores, were borne 
towards the straits of Blackwell’s Island. 

And here the capricious wanderings of 
the current occasioned not a little marvel 
and perplexity to these illustrious mariners. 
Now would they be caught by the wanton 
eddies, and, sweeping round a jutting point, 
would wind deep into some romantic little cove, 
that indented the fair island of Mannahatta ; 
now were they hurried narrowly by the very 
bases of impending rocks, mantled with the 
flaunting grape-vine, and crowned with groves 
which threw a broad shade on the waves 


‘Wllitcbing Scenes 


beneath ; and anon they were borne away into 
the mid-channel and wafted along with a 
rapidity that very much discomposed the sage 
Van Kortlandt, who, as he saw the land swiftly 
receding on either side, began exceedingly to 
doubt that terra firma was giving them the 

Wherever the voyagers turned their eyes, a 
new creation seemed to bloom around. No 
signs of human thrift appeared to check the 
delicious wildness of nature, who here revelled 
in all her luxuriant variety. Those hills, now 
bri.stled, like the fretful porcupine, with rows 
of poplars, (vain upstart plants ! minions of 
wealth and fashion !) were then adorned with* 
the vigorous natives of the soil : the lordly oak, 
the generous chestnut, the graceful elm, — 
while here and there the tulip-tree reared its 
majestic head, the giant of the forest. Where 
now are seen the gay retreats of luxury, — 
villas half buried in twilight bowers, whence 
the amorous flute oft breathes the sighings of 
some city swain, — there the flsh-hawk built his 
• solitary nest on some dry tree that overlooked 
his watery domain. The timid deer fed undis- 
turbed along those shores now hallowed by 
the lovers’ moonlight walk, and printed by the 
slender foot of beauty ; and a savage solitude 
-extended over those happy regions, where now 


are reared the stately towers of the Joneses, the 
Schermerhornes, and the Rhinelanders. 

Thus gliding in silent wonder through these 
new and unknown scenes, the gallant squadron 
of Pavonia swept by the foot of a promontory, 
which strutted forth boldly into the waves, 
and seemed to frown upon them as they brawled 
against its base. This is the bluff well known 
to modern mariners by the name of Gracie’s 
Point, from the fair castle which, like an ele- 
phant, it carries upon its back. And here 
broke upon their view a wild and varied pros- 
pect, where land and water were beauteously 
intermingled, as though they had combined to 
heighten and set off each other’s charms. To 
the right la}^ the sedgy point of Blackwell’s 
Island, dressed in the fresh garniture of living 
green, — beyond it stretched the pleasant coast 
of Sundswick, and the small harbor well known 
by the name of Hallet’s Cove, — a place infa- 
mous in latter days, by reason of its being the 
haunt of pirates who infest these seas, robbing 
orchards and watermelon patches, and insult- 
ing gentlemen navigators, when voyaging in 
their pleasure-boats. To the left a deep bay, 
or rather creek, gracefully receded between 
shores fringed with forests, and forming a kind 
of vista, through which were beheld the sylvan 
regions of Haerlem, Morrisania, and East 

^ 0 ! 

‘imiltcbing Scenes 

Chester. Here the eye reposed with delight 
on a richly wooded country, diversified by 
tufted knolls, shadowy intervals, and waving 
lines of upland, swelling above each other, 
while over the whole the purple mists of 
spring diffused a hue of soft voluptuousness. 


Just before them the grand course of the 
stream, making a sudden bend, wound among 
embowered promontories and shores of emerald 
verdure, that seemed to melt into the wave. A 
character of gentleness and mild fertility pre- 


B Ibistors ot IRcvv 

vailed around. The sun had just descended, 
and the thin haze of twilight, like a transparent 
veil drawn over the bosom of virgin beauty, 
heightened the charms which it half con- 

Ah ! witching scenes of foul delusion. Ah ! 
hapless voyagers, gazing with simple wonder 
on these Circean shores ! Such, alas ! are 
they, poor easy souls, who listen to the seduc- 
tions of a wicked world, — treacherous are its 
smiles ! fatal its caresses. He who yields to 
its enticements launches upon a whelming tide, 
and trusts his feeble bark among the dimpling 
eddies of a whirlpool ! And thus it fared with 
the worthies of Pavonia, who, little mistrusting 
the guileful scenes before them, drifted quietly 
on, until they were aroused by an uncommon 
tossing and agitation of their vessels. For now 
the late dimpling current began to brawl around 
them, and the waves to boil and foam with 
horrific fury. Awakened as if from a dream, 
the astonished OlofFe bawled aloud to put 
about, but his words were lost amid the roar- 
ing of the waters. And now ensued a scene 
•of direful consternation. At one time they 
were borne with dreadful velocity among tu- 
multuous breakers ; at another, hurried down 
boisterous rapids. Now they were nearly 
dashed upon the Hen and Chickens (infamous 



B Ibistor^ of IRew l^orft 

rocks ! — more voracious than Scylla and her 
whelps), and anon they seemed sinking into 
yawning gulfs, that threatened to entomb them 
beneath the waves. All the elements combined 
to produce a hideous confusion. The waters 
raged, the winds howled ; and as they were 
hurried along, several of the astonished mari- 
ners beheld the rocks and trees of the neighbor- 
ing shores driving through the air ! 

At length the mighty tub of Commodore 
Van Kortlandt was drawn into the vortex of 
that tremendous whirlpool called the Pot, 
where it was whirled about in giddy mazes, 
until the senses of the good commander and 
his crew were overpowered by the horror of the 
scene, and the strangeness of the revolution. 

How the gallant squadron of Pavonia was 
snatched from the jaws of this, modern Cha- 
rybdis, has never been truly made known, for 
so many survived to tell the tale, and, what is 
still more wonderful, told it in so many differ- 
ent ways, that there has ever prevailed a great 
variety of opinions on the subject. 

As to the commodore and his crew, when 
they came to their senses, they found them- 
selves stranded on the Long Island .shore. 
The worthy commodore, indeed, used to relate 
many and wonderful stories of his adventures 
in this time of peril : how that he saw spectres 

flying in the air, and heard the yelling of 
hobgoblins, and put his hand into the pot 
when they were whirled round, and found the 
water scalding hot, and beheld several uncouth- 
looking beings seated on rocks and skimming 
it with huge ladles ; but particularly he declared 
with great exultation, that he saw the losel 


porpoises, which had betra3^ed them into this 
peril, some broiling on the Gridiron, and others 
hissing on the Frying-pan ! 

These, however, were considered by many 
as mere fantasies of the commodore, while he 


B Ibistor^ of Bew lork 

lay in a trance ; especially as lie was known to 
be given to dreaming ; and the truth of them 
has never been clearly ascertained. It is cer- 
tain, however, that to the accounts of Oloffe 
and his followers may be traced the various, 
traditions handed down of this marvellous 
strait : as how the devil has been seen there, 
sitting astride of the Hog’s Back and playing 
on the fiddle,— how he broils fish there before 
a storm ; and many other stories in which we 
must be cautious of putting too much faith. 
In consequence of all these terrific circum- 
stances, the Pavonian commander gave this 
pass the name of Helle-gat, or, as it has been 
interpreted, Hell-Gate'^ ; which it continues to 
bear at the present day. 

* This is a narrow strait in the Sound, at the dis- 
tance of six miles above New York. It is dangerous 
to shipping, unless under the care of skilful pilots, 
by reason of numerous rocks, shelves, and whirlpools. 
These have received sundry appellations, such as the 
Gridiron, Frying-pan, Hog’s Back, Pot, etc., and are 
very violent and turbulent at certain times of tide. 
Certain mealy-mouthed men, of squeamish conscien- 
ces, who are loth to give the Devil his due, have 
softened the above characteristic name into Hurl- 
gate^ forsooth ! Let those take care how they venture 
into the Gate, or they may be hurled into the Pot 
before they are aware of it. The name of this strait, 
as given by our author, is supported by the map in 

Vander Donck’s History, published in 1656, — by 
Ogilvie’s History of America, 1671, — as also by a 
journal still extant, written in the sixteenth century, 
and to be found in Hazard’s State Papers. And an 
old MS. written in French, speaking of various 
alterations in names about this city, observes, “ De 
Hell-gate, trou d’Eufer ils ont fait Hell-gate, Porte 

Chapter ID. 


' ' sailed with the raging 

of the elements, and 
the howling of the hob- 
goblins that infested this perfidious strait. But 
when the morning dawned, the horrors of the 
preceding evening had passed away ; rapids, 
breakers, and whirlpools had disappeared ; the 
stream again ran smooth and dimpling, and 
having changed its tide, rolled gently back, 
towards the quarter where lay their much- 
regretted home. 

Zbc jfatc of tbe ^travellers 


The woe-begone heroes of Communipaw 
eyed each other with rueful countenances ; 
their squadron had been totally dispersed by 
the late disaster. Some were cast upon the 
western shore, where, headed by one Ruleff 
Hopper, they took possession of all the coun- 
try l3dng about the six-mile stone ; which is 
held by the Hoppers at this present writing. 

The Waldrons were driven by strevSS of 
weather to a distant coast, where, having with 
them a jug of genuine Hollands, they were 
enabled to conciliate the savages, setting up a 
kind of tavern ; whence, it is said, did spring 
the fair town of Haerlem, in which their de- 
scendants have ever since continued to be 
reputable publicans. As to the Suydams, they 
were thrown upon the lyong Island coast, and 
may still be found in those parts. But the 
most singular luck attended the great Ten 
Broeck, who, falling overboard, was miracu- 
lously preserved from sinking by the multi- 
tude of his nether garments. Thus buoyed 
up, he floated on the waves like a merman, or 
like an angler’s dobber, until he landed safely 
on a rock, where he was found the next morn- 
ing, busily drying his many breeches in the 

I forbear to treat of the long consultation 
of Oloffe with his remaining followers, in 

VOL. I — 12 


B Ibistor^ of IRew lorft 

which they determined that it would never 
do to found a city in so diabolical a neigh- 
borhood. Suffice it in simple brevity to say, 
that they once more committed themselves, 
with fear and trembling, to the briny ele- 
ments, and steered their course back again 
through the scenes of their yesterday’s voy- 
age, determined no longer to roam in search 
of distant sites, but to settle themselves down 
in the marshy regions of Pavonia. 

Scarce, however, had they gained a distant 
view of Communipaw, when they were en- 
countered by an obstinate eddy, which opposed 
their homeward voyage. Weary and dispirited 
as the}^ were, they yet tugged a feeble oar 
against the stream ; until, as if to settle the 
strife, half a score of potent billows rolled the 
tub of Commodore Van Kortlandt high and 
dry on the long point of an island which di- 
vided the bosom of the bay. 

Some pretend that these billows were sent 
by old Neptune to strand the expedition on a 
spot whereon was to be founded his stronghold 
in this western world ; others, more pious, at- 
tribute everything to the guardianship of the 
good St. Nicholas ; and after-events will be 
found to corroborate this opinion. Oloffe Van 
Kortlandt was a devout trencherman. Every 
repast was a kind of religious rite with him ; 

B Solemn JBanauct 

and his first thought on finding himself once 
more on dry ground, was, how he should con- 
trive to celebrate his wonderful escape from Hell- 
gate and all its horrors by a solemn banquet. 
The stores which had been provided for the 
voyage by the good housewives of Communipaw 


were nearly exhausted, but, in casting his eyes 
about, the commodore beheld that the shore 
abounded with oysters. A great store of 
these was instantly collected ; a fire was made 
at the foot of a tree ; all hands fell to roasting 
and broiling and stewing and frying, and a 


sumptuous repast was soon set forth. This 
is thought to be the origin of those civic 
feasts with which, to the present day, all our 
public affairs are celebrated, and in which the 
03'ster is ever sure to play an important part. 

On the present occasion, the worthy Van 
Kortlandt was observed to be particularly 
zealous in his devotions to the trencher ; for 
having the cares of the expedition especiall}^ 
committed to his care, he deemed it incumbent 
on him to eat profoundly for the public good. 
In proportion as he filled himself to the very 
brim with the dainty viands before him, did 
the heart of this excellent burgher rise up 
towards his throat, until he seemed crammed 
and almost choked with good eating and good- 
nature. And at such times it is, when a man’s 
heart is in his throat, that he may more truly 
be said to speak from it, and his speeches 
abound with kindness and good fellowship. 
Thus having swallowed the last possible mor- 
sel, and washed it down with a fervent pota- 
tion, Oloffe felt his heart yearning, and his 
whole frame in a manner dilating with un- 
bounded benevolence. Everything around 
him seemed excellent and delightful ; and 
laying his hands on each side of his capaciousV 
periphery, and rolling his half-closed eyes 
around on the beautiful diversity of land and 

©loffe'0 Strange Dream 

water before him, he exclaimed, in a fat half- 
smothered voice, “ What a charming pros- 
pect ! ’ ’ The words died away in his throat, 
— he seemed to ponder on the fair scene for a 
moment, — his eyelids heavily closed over their 


orbs, — his head drooped upon his bosom, — he 
slowly sank upon the green turf, and a deep 
sleep stole gradually over him. 

And the sage Oloffe dreamed a dream, — and 
lo, the good St. Nicholas came riding over the 
tops of the trees, in that self-same wagon 
wherein he brings his yearly presents to chil- 




- 3 ' 


B 1bl9tor^ of IRew l^ort? 

dren, and he descended hard by where the 
heroes of Communipaw had made their late 
repast. And he lit his pipe by the fire, and 
sat himself down and smoked ; and as he 
smoked, the smoke from his pipe ascended 
into the air and spread like a cloud overhead. 
And Oloffe bethought him, and he hastened 
and climbed up to the top of one of the tall- 
est trees, and saw that the smoke spread over 
a great extent of country ; and as he consid- 
ered it more attentivel}^, he fancied that the 
great volume of smoke assumed a variety of 
marvellous forms, where in dim obscurity he 
saw shadowed out palaces and domes and lofty 
spires, all of which lasted but a moment, and 
then faded away, until the whole rolled off, 
and nothing but the green woods were left. 
And when St. Nicholas had smoked his pipe, 
he twisted it in his hatband, and laying his fin- 
ger beside his nose, gave the astonished Van 
Kortlandt a very significant look ; then, mount- 
ing his wagon, he returned over the tree-tops 
and disappeared. 

And Van Kortlandt awoke from his sleep 
greatly instructed ; and he aroused his com- 
panions and related to them his dream, and 
interpreted it, that it was the will of St. Nicho- 
las that they should settle down and build the 
city here ; and that the smoke of the pipe was 

B 1bapp^ IRetuni 


a type how vast would be the extent of the 
city, inasmuch as the volumes of its smoke 
would spread over a wide extent of country. 
And they all with one voice assented to this 
interpretation, excepting Mynheer Ten Broeck, 
who declared the meaning to be that it would 
be a city wherein a little fire would occasion 
a great smoke, or, in other words, a very va- 
poring little city ; — both which interpretations 
have strangely come to pass ! 

The great object of their perilous expedition, 
therefore, being thus happily accomplished, 
the voyagers returned merrily to Communi- 
paw — where they were received with great 
rejoicings. And here, calling a general meet- 
ing of all the wise men and the dignitaries of 
Pavonia, they related the whole history of 
their voyage, and of the dream of Oloffe Van 
Kortlandt. And the people lifted up their 
voices and blessed the good St. Nicholas ; and 
from that time forth the sage Van Kortlandt 
was held in more honor than ever, for his 
great talent at dreaming, and was pronounced 
a most useful citizen and a right good man — 
when he was asleep. 


Chapter IDU 


HE original name of 
the island, whereon the 
squadron of Communi- 
paw was thus propi- 
tiously thrown, is a mat- 
ter of some dispute, and 
has already undergone 
considerable vitiation, — 
a melancholy proof of 
the instability of all sub- 
and the 

lunary things, 
vanity of all our hopes of lasting fame ; for 
who can expect his name will live to posterity, 
when even the names of mighty islands are 
thus soon lost in contradiction and uncer- 
tainty ! 

The name most current at the present day, 
and which is likewise countenanced by the 
great historian Vander Donck, is Manhat- 

lDariou0 JEt^moloQies 


TAN ; which is said to have originated in a 
custom among the squaws, in the early settle- 
tlement, of wearing men’s hats, as is still done 
among many tribes. “ Hence,” as we are told 
by an old governor who was somewhat of a 
wag, and flourished almost a century since, 
and had paid a visit to the wits of Phil- 
adelphia, — “hence arose the appellation of 
man-hat-on, first given to the Indians, and 
afterwards to the island,” — a stupid joke ! 
but well enough for a governor. 

Among the more venerable sources of in- 
formation on this subject is that valuable 
history of the American possessions, written 
by Master Richard Blome, in 1687, wherein 
it is called Manhadaes and Manahanent ; nor 
must I forget the excellent little book, full 
of precious matter, of that authentic historian 
John Josselyn, Gent., who expressly calls it 

Another etymology, still more ancient, and 
sanctioned by the countenance of our ever-to- 
be-lamented Dutch ancestors, is that found in 
certain letters still extant, * which passed 
between the early governors and their neigh- 
boring powers, wherein it is called indiffer- 
ently Monhattoes, Munhatos, and Manhattoes, 
which are evidently unimportant variations of 
* Vide^ Hazard’s Col. Slat. Pap. 

1 86 

B Ibietorg of Bew l^orft 

the same name ; for our wise forefathers set 
little store by those niceties either in orthog- 
raphy or orthoepy, which form the sole study 
and ambition of many learned men and women 
of this hypercritical age. This last name is 
said to be derived from the great Indian 
spirit Manetho, who was supposed to make 
this island his favorite abode, on account of 
its uncommon delights. For the Indian tradi- 
tions affirm that the bay was once a translucid 
lake, filled with silver and golden fish, in the 
midst of which lay this beautiful island, cov- 
ered with every variety of fruits and flowers ; 
but that the sudden irruption of the Hudson 
laid waste these blissful scenes, and Manetho 
took his flight beyond the great waters of 

These, however, are very fabulous legends, to 
which very cautious credence must be given ; 
and though I am willing to admit the last- 
quoted orthography of the name as very fit for 
prose, yet is there another which I peculiarly 
delight in, as at once poetical, melodious, and 
significant, and which we have on the au- 
thority of Master Juet, who, in his account 
of the voyage of the great Hudson, calls this 
Manna-hata, that is to say, the island of 
manna, or, in other words, a land flowing with 
milk and honey. 


IDarious Bti^molOQics 

Still, my deference to the learned obliges me 
to notice the opinion of the worthy Dominie 
Heckwelder, which ascribes the name to a 
great drunken bout held on the island by the 


Dutch discoverers, whereat they made certain 
of the natives most ecstatically drunk for 
the first time in their lives ; who, being de- 
lighted with their jovial entertainment, gave 

B Ibistor^ of IRcw l^ork 

the place the name of Mannahattanink, that 
is to say, The Island of Jolly Topers : a name 
which it continues to merit to the present 

* MSS. of the Rev. John Heckwelder, in the ar- 
chives of the New York Historical Society. 

Chapter MU 


h r' T having been solemnly 
resolved that the seat 
( ' ^ of empire should be re- 

moved from the green 
f \!> shores of Pavonia to 

the pleasant island of 
/{^ Manna-hata, everybody 

/ 1' I / 1 was anxious to embark 

under the standard of 
Oloffe the Dreamer, and 
to be among the first 
sharers of the promised land. A day was ap- 
pointed for the grand migration, and on that 
day little Communipaw was in a buzz and a 
bustle like a hive in swarming-time. Houses 
were turned inside out and stripped of the 
venerable furniture which had come from 
Holland ; all the community, great and small. 

' V 

black and white, man, woman, and child, was 
in commotion, forming lines from the houses 
to the water-side, like lines of ants from an 
ant-hill ; everybody laden w’ith vSome article of 
household furniture ; while busy house-wives 
plied backwards and forwards along the lines, 
helping everything forward by the nimbleness 
of their tongues. 

By degrees a fleet of boats and canoes were 
piled up with all kinds of household articles : 
ponderous tables ; chests of drawers resplendent 
with brass ornaments ; quaint corner-cup- 
boards ; beds and bedsteads ; with any quan- 
tity of pots, kettles, fr^dng-pans, and Dutch 
ovens. In each boat embarked a whole family, 
from the robustious burgher down to the cats 
and dogs and little negroes. In this way they 
set off across the mouth of the Hudson, under 
the guidance of Oloffe the Dreamer, who 
hoisted his standard on the leading boat. 

This memorable migration took place on the 
first of May, and was long cited in tradition as 
the grand movmg. The anniversary of it was 
piously observed among the ‘ ‘ sons of the pil- 
grims of Communipaw,” by turning their 
houses topsy-turvy and carrying all the furni- 
ture through the streets, in emblem of the 
swarming of the parent-hive ; and this is the 
real origin of the universal agitation and 

‘ ‘ moving ’ ’ by which this most restless of cities 
is literally turned out of doors on every Ma}'- 

As the little squadron from Communipaw 
drew near to the shores of Manna-hata, a sachem, 
at the head of a band of warriors, appeared to 
oppose their landing. Some of the most zeal- 
ous of the pilgrims were for chastising this 
insolence with powder and ball, according to 
the approved mode of discoverers ; but the 
sage Oloffe gave them the significant sign of 
St. Nicholas, laying his finger beside his nose 
and winking hard with one eye ; whereupon 
his followers perceived that there was something 
sagacious in the wind. He now addressed the 
Indians in the blandest terms ; and made such 
tempting display of beads, hawks’ -bells, and 
red blankets, that he was soon permitted to 
land, and a great land-speculation ensued. 
And here let me give the true story of the 
original purchase of the site of this renowned 
city, about which so much has been said and 
written. Some affirm that the first cost was 
but sixty guilders. The learned Dominie 
Heckwelder records a tradition* that the Dutch 
discoverers bargained for only so much land as 
the hide of a bullock would cover ; but that 

* MSS. of the Rev. John Heckwelder; New York 
Historical Society. 


they cut the hide in strips no thicker than a 
child’s finger, so as to take in a large portion 
of land, and to take in the Indians into the 
bargain. This, however, is an old fable which 
the worthy Dominie may have borrowed from 
antiquity. The true version is, that Oloffe 
Van Kortlandt bargained for just so much 
land as a man could cover with his nether gar- 
ments. The terms being concluded, he pro- 
duced his friend Mynheer Ten Broeck as the 
man whose breeches were to be used in 
measurement. The simple savages, whose 
ideas of man’s nether garments had never 
expanded beyond the dimensions of a breech- 
clout, stared with astonishment and dismay 
as they beheld this bulbous-bottomed burgher 
peeled like an onion, and breeches after breeches 
spread forth over the land until they covered 
the actual site of this venerable city. 

This is the true history of the adroit bargain 
by which the island of Manhattan was bought 
for sixty guilders ; and in corroboration of it 
I will add, that Mynheer Ten Breeches, for 
his services on this memorable occasion, was 
elevated to the ofiice of land-measurer ; which 
he afterwards exercised in the colony. 


Cbaptec DH1F1I 


K f I ^ HE land being thus fairly 
p I purchased of the In- 

^ dians, a circumstance 

very unusual in the his- 
tory of colonization, and 

. . " strongly illustrative of 

honesty of our Dutch 
progenitors, a stockade 
fort and trading-house 
were forthwith erected 
on an eminence in front of the place where 
the good St. Nicholas had appeared in a vision 
to Oloffe the Dreamer, and which, as has al- 
ready been observed, was the identical place 
at present known as the Bowling Green. 

Around this fort a progeny of little Dutch- 
built houses, with tiled roofs and weather- 
cocks, soon sprang up, nestling themselves 
under its walls for protection, as a brood of 

^Tbe ITnfant Settlement 


half- fledged chickens nestle under the wings 
of the mother hen. The whole was sur- 
rounded by an enclosure of strong palisadoes, 
to guard against any sudden irruption of the 
savages. Outside of these extended the corn- 
fields and cabbage-gardens of the community, 
with here and there an attempt at a tobacco- 
plantation ; all covering those tracts of country 
at present called Broadway, Wall Street, Wil- 
liam Street, and Pearl Street. 

I must not omit to mention, that, in por- 
tioning out the land, a goodly “bowerie,” or 
farm, was allotted to the sage Olofie in consid- 
eration of the service he had rendered to the 
public by his talent at dreaming ; and the site 
of his ‘ ‘ bowerie ’ ’ is known by the name of 
Kortlandt (or Cortlandt) Street to the present 

And now the infant settlement having ad- 
vanced in age and stature, it was thought high 
time it should receive an honest Christian 
name. Hitherto it had gone by the original 
Indian name Manna-hata, or, as some will 
have it, “The Manhattoes ’ ’ ; but this was 
now decried as savage and heathenish, and as 
tending to keep up the memory of the pagan 
brood that originally possessed it. Many were 
the consultations held upon the subject, with- 
out coming to a conclusion, for though every- 


. 0 ^ 



B Ibistor^ of IRew lorJ? 

body condemned the old name, nobody could 
invent a new one. At length, when the council 
was almost in despair, a burgher, remarkable 
for the size and squareness of his head pro- 
posed that they should call it New Amsterdam. 
The proposition took everybody by surprise ; 
it was so striking, so apposite, so ingenious. 
The name was adopted by acclamation, and 
New Amsterdam the metropolis was thence- 
forth called. Still, however, the early authors 
of the province continued to call it by the 
general appellation of “The Manhattoes,” 
and the poets fondly clung to the euphonious 
name of Manna-hata ; but those are a kind of 
folk whose tastes and notions should go for 
nothing in matters of this kind. 

Having thus provided the embryo city with 
a name, the next was to give it an armorial 
bearing or device, as some cities have a ram- 
pant lion, others a soaring eagle, — emblemati- 
cal, no doubt, of the valiant and high-flying 
qualities of the inhabitants ; so, after mature 
deliberation, a sleek beaver was emblazoned 
on the city standard, as indicative of the 
amphibious origin, and patient, persevering 
habits of the New Amsterdammers. 

The thriving state of the settlement and the 
rapid increase of houses soon made it necessary 
to arrange some plan upon which the city 


^Tbe 0reat 2)i9CU66ion 


should be built ; but at the very first consulta- 
tion held on the subject, a violent discussion 
arose ; and I mention it with much sorrowing 
as being the first altercation on record in the 
councils of New Amsterdam. It was, in fact, 
a breaking forth of the grudge and heart- 
burning that had existed between those two 
eminent burghers. Mynheers Ten Broeck and 
Harden Broeck, ever since their unhappy dis- 
pute on the coast of Bellevue. The great 
Harden Broeck had waxed very wealthy and 
powerful, from his domains, which embraced 
the whole chain of Apulean mountains that 
stretched along the gulf of Kip’s Bay, and 
from part of which his descendants have been 
expelled in latter ages by the powerful clans 
of the Joneses and the Schermerhornes. 

An ingenious plan for the city was offered by 
Mynheer Harden Broeck, who proposed that 
it should be cut up and intersected by canals, 
after the manner of the most admired cities in 
Holland. To this Mynheer Ten Broeck was 
diametrically opposed, suggesting, in place 
thereof, that they should run out docks and 
wharves, by means of piles driven into the 
bottom of the river, on which the towns should 
be built. ‘ ‘ By these means, ” said he triumph- 
antly, “ shall we rescue a considerable space of 
territory from these immense rivers, and build 

v ' U A' 


( \ \// 

\ r \ X 


198 B Ibistorg ot IKlew IJorf^ 

a city that shall rival x\msterdam, Venice, 


or any amphibious city in Europe.” To 
this proposition, Harden Broeck (or Tough 

Breeches) replied, with a look of as much 


scorn as he could possibly assume. He cast 
the utmost censure upon the plan of his antag- 
onist, as being preposterous and against the 


very order of things, as he would leave to every 

true Hollander. “For what,” said he, “ is a 
town without canals ? — it is like a body with- 
out veins and arteries, and must perish for want 
of a free circulation of the vital fluid. ’ ’ Ten 

M 1 

Breeches, on the contrary, retorted with a sar- 


casm upon his antagonist, who was somewhat 


of an arid, dr^^-boned habit : he remarked, that 

/ M 

as to the circulation of the blood being neces- 

sary to existence. Mynheer Tough Breeches 
was a living contradiction to his own assertion : 
for everybody knew there had not a drop 
of blood circulated through his wind-dried car- 


case for good ten years, and yet there was not 


a greater busy-body in the whole colony. Per- 


sonalities have seldom much effect in making 


converts in argument ; nor have I ever seen a 

man convinced of error by being convicted of 

1 1 

deformity. At least, such was not the case at 



present. If Ten Breeches was very happy in 


sarcasm. Tough Breeches, who was a sturdy 


little man, and never gave up the last word, 


I i \>^ 

1 ' 


Zbc (5reat S)i6CU66ion 

rejoined with increasing spirit ; Ten Breeches 
had the advantage of the greatest volubility, 
but Tough Breeches had that invaluable coat 
of mail in argument, called obstinacy. Ten 


Breeches had, therefore, the most mettle, but 
Tough Breeches the best bottom ; so that 
though Ten Breeches made a dreadful clattering 
about his ears, and battered and belabored him 
wdth hard words and sound arguments, yet 


B Ibistor^ of IRew l!)ork 

Tough Breeches hung on most resolutely to the 
last. They parted, therefore, as is usual in all 
arguments where both parties are in the right, 
without coming to any conclusion ; — but they 
hated each other most heartily forever after, 
and a similar breech with that between the 
houses of Capulet and Montague did ensue 
between the families of Ten Breeches and 
Tough Breeches. 

I would not fatigue my reader with these 
dull matters of fact, but that my duty as a 
faithful historian requires that I should be par- 
ticular ; and in truth, as I am now treating of 
the critical period when our city, like a young 
twig, first received the twists and turns which 
have since contributed to give it its present pic- 
turesque irregularity, I cannot be too minute 
in detailing their first causes. 

After the unhapp}' altercation I have just 
mentioned, I do not find that anything further 
was said on the subject worthy of being re- 
corded. The council, consisting of the lar- 
gest and oldest heads in the community, met 
regularly once a week, to ponder on this 
momentous subject ; but, either they were de- 
terred by the war of words they had witnessed, 
or they were naturally averse to the exercise 
of the tongue, and the subsequent exercise of 
the brains, — certain it is, the most profound 


Zbc Doings of tbc Council 

silence was maintained, — the question as usual 
lay on the table, — the members quietly smoked 
their pipes, making but few laws, without ever 
enforcing any, — and in the meantime the affairs 
of the settlement went on — as it pleased God. 

As most of the council were but little skilled 
in the mystery of combining pot-hooks and 
hangers, they determined most judiciously not 
to puzzle either themselves or posterity with 
voluminous records. The secretary, however, 
kept the minutes of the council, with tolerable 

202 B Ibietor^ of Bew liJork 

precision, in a large vellum folio, fastened with 
massy brass clasps ; the journal of each meet- 
ing consisted but of two lines, stating in Dutch, 
that ‘ ‘ the council sat this day, and smoked 
twelve pipes, on the affairs of the colony.” 
By which it appears that the first settlers did 
not regulate their time by hours, but pipes, in 
the same manner as they measure distances in 
Holland at this very time : an admirably exact 
measurement, as a pipe in the mouth of a true- 
born Dutchman is never liable to those acci- 
dents and irregularities that are continually 
putting our clocks out of order. 

In this manner did the profound council of 
New Amsterdam smoke, and doze, and pon- 
der, from week to week, month to month, and 
year to year, in what manner they should con- 
struct their infant settlement ; — meanwhile, the 
town took care of itself, and like a sturdy brat 
which is suffered to run about wild, unshackled 
by clouts and bandages, and other abomina- 
tions by which your notable nurses and sage 
old women cripple and disfigure the children of 
men, increased so rapidly in strength and mag- 
nitude, that before the honest burgomasters 
had determined upon a plan, it was too late to 
put it in execution, — whereupon they wisely 
abandoned the subject altogether. 

Cbapter IFJ 



204 B 1f3i6tor^ ot IRew lork 

trackless forests and wide-spreading waters, 
that seemed to shut out all the cares and van- 
ities of a wicked world. 

In those days did this embr>’o city present 
the rare and noble spectacle of a community 
governed without laws ; and thus being left to 
its own course, and the fostering care of Provi- 
dence, increased as rapidly as though it had 
been burdened with a dozen panniers full of 
those sage laws usually heaped on the backs 
of young cities — in order to make them grow. 
And in this particular I greatly admire the 
wisdom and sound knowledge of human na- 
ture, displayed by the sage Oloffe the Dreamer 
and his fellow-legislators. For my part, I have 
not so bad an opinion of mankind as many of 
my brother philosophers. I do not think poor 
human nature so sorry a piece of workman- 
ship as they would make it out to be ; and as 
far as I have observed, I am fully satisfied that 
man, if left to himself, would about as readily 
go right as wrong. It is only this eternally 
sounding in his ears that it is his duty to go 
right, which makes him go the very reverse. 
The noble independence of his nature revolts 
at this intolerable tyranny of law, and the per- 
petual interference of officious morality, which 
are ever besetting his path with finger-posts 
and directions to ‘ ‘ keep to the right, as the law 

Zbc iBvii of /IRan^ 2Law6 205 

directs ” ; and like a spirited urchin, he turns 
directly contrary, and gallops through mud and 
mire, over hedges and ditches, merely to show 
that he is a lad of spirit, and out of his leading- 
strings. And these opinions are amply sub- 
stantiated by what I have above said of our 
worthy ancestors ; who never being be-preached 
and be-lectured, and guided and governed by 
statutes and laws and by-laws, as are their 
more enlightened descendants, did one and all 
demean themselves honestly and peaceably, out 
of pure ignorance, or, in other words, because 
they knew no better. 

Nor must I omit to record one of the earliest 
measures of this infant settlement, inasmuch as 
it shows the piety of our forefathers, and that, 
like good Christians, the}^ were always ready 
to serve God, after they had first served them- 
selves. Thus, having quietly settled themselves 
down, and provided for their own comfort, 
they bethought themselves of testifying their 
gratitude to the great and good St. Nicholas, 
for his protecting care, in guiding them to 
this delectable abode. To this end they built 
a fair and goodly chapel within the fort, which 
they consecrated to his name ; whereupon he 
immediately took the town of New Amster- 
dam under his peculiar patronage, and he 
has ever since been, and I devoutly hope, | 

will ever be, 

At this early period was instituted that pious 
ceremon}^, still religiously observed in all our 
ancient families of the right breed, of hanging 
up a stocking in the chimney on St. Nicholas 
eve ; which stocking is always found in the 
morning miraculously filled ; for the good St. 
Nicholas has ever been a great giver of gifts, 
particularly to children. 

I am moreover told that there is a little leg- 
endary book, somewhere extant, written in 
Low Dutch, which says, that the image of this 
renowned saint, which whilom graced the 
bowsprit of the Goede Vrouw, was elevated in 
front of this chapel, in the centre of what in 
modern days is called the Bowling Green, — on 
the very spot, in fact, where he appeared in 
vision to Oloffe the Dreamer. And the legend 
further treats of divers miracles wrought by 
the mighty pipe which the saint held in his 
mouth, a whiff of which was a sovereign cure 
for indigestion, — an invaluable relic in this 
colony of brave trencher-men. As, however, 
in spite of the most diligent search, I cannot 
lay my hands upon this little book, I must con- 
fess that I entertain considerable doubt on the 

Thus benignly fostered by the good St. 

St. IRicbolae 

Nicholas, the infant city thrived apace. 
Hordes of painted savages, it is true, still 
lurked about the unsettled parts of the island. 
The hunter still pitched his bower of skins 


and bark beside the rills that ran through the 
cool and shady glens, while here and there 
might be seen, on some sunny knoll, a group 
of Indian wigwams, whose smoke arose above 


B 1bi6tor^ Qt IRevv lork 


the neighboring trees, and floated in the trans- 
parent atmosphere. A mutual good-will, how- 
ever, existed between these wandering beings 
and the burghers of New Amsterdam. Our 
benevolent forefathers endeavored as much as 
possible to ameliorate their situation, by giving 
them gin, rum, and glass beads, in exchange 
for their peltries ; for it seems the kind-hearted 
Dutchmen had conceived a great friendship for 
their savage neighbors, on account of their 
being pleasant men to trade with, and little 
skilled in the art of making a bargain. 

Now and then a crew of these half-human 
sons of the forest would make their appearance 
in the streets of New Amsterdam, fantastically 
painted and decorated with beads and flaunting 
feathers, sauntering about with an air of list- 
less indifference, — sometimes in the market- 
place, instructing the little Dutch boys in the 
use of the bow and arrow, — at other times, 
inflamed with liquor, swaggering and whooping 
and yelling about the town like so many fiends, 
to the great dismay of all the good wives, 
who would hurry their children into the house, 
fasten the doors, and throw water upon the 
enemy from the garret windows. It is worthy 
of mention here, that our forefathers were 
very particular in holding up these wild men 
as excellent domestic examples — and for rea- 




B 1bi6tor^ of mew 

sons that may be gathered from the history of 
Master Ogilby, who tells us, that “for the 
least offence the bridegroom soundly beats his 
wife and turns her out of doors, and marries 
another, insomuch that some of them have 
every year a new wife.” Whether this awful 
example had any influence or not, history 
does not mention ; but it is certain that our 
grandmothers were miracles of fidelity and 

True it is, that the good understanding be- 
tween our ancestors and their savage neighbors 
was liable to occasional interruptions, and I 
have heard my grandmother, who was a very 
wise old woman, and well versed in the history 
of these parts, tell a long story of a winter’s 
evening, about a battle between the New 
Amsterdammers and the Indians, which was 
known by the name of the Peach 2va7', and 
which took place near a peach orchard, in a 
dark glen, which for a long time went by the 
name of Murderer’s Valley. 

The legend of this sylvan war was long cur- 
rent among the nurses, old wives, and other 
ancient chroniclers of the place ; but time and 
improvement have almost obliterated both the 
tradition and the scene of battle ; for what 
was once the blood-stained valley is now in the 
centre of this populous city, and known b}^ the 

Bmbitioue Dreams 


name of Dey Street. I know not whether it 
was to this ‘ ‘ Peach war, ’ ’ and the acquisitions 
of Indian land which may have grown out of 
it, that we may ascribe the first seeds of the 
spirit of ‘ ‘ annexation ’ ’ which now began to 
manifest themselves. Hitherto the ambition 
of the worthy burghers had been confined to 
the lovely island of Manna-hata ; and Spiten 
Devil on the Hudson, and Hell-gate on the 
Sound, were to them the pillars of Hercules, 
the 7ie phis tdtra of human enterprise. Shortly 
after the Peach war, however, a restless spirit 
was observed among the New Amsterdammers, 
who began to cast wistful looks upon the 
wild lands of their Indian neighbors ; for, some- 
how or other, wild Indian land alwa 3 'S looks 
greener in the e\^es of settlers than the land 
they occup}^ It is hinted that Olofie the 
Dreamer encouraged these notions ; having, as 
has been shown, the inherent spirit of a land 
speculator, which had been wonderfully- quick- 
ened and expanded since he had become a 
landholder. Many of the common people, 
who had never before owned a foot of land, 
now began to be discontented with the town 
lots which had fallen to their shares ; others, 
who had snug farms and tobacco-plantations, 
found they had not sufficient elbow-room, and 
began to question the rights of the Indians to 


B 1bi6tor^ of IRew lork 

the vast regions they pretended to hold — while 
the good Oloffe indulged in magnificent 
dreams of foreign conquest and great patroon- 
ships in the wilderness. 

The results of these dreams were certain 
exploring expeditions, sent forth in various 
directions, to “sow the seeds of empire,” as 
it was said. The earliest of these were con- 
ducted by Hans Reinier Oothout, an old 
navigator, famous for the sharpness of his 
vision, who could see land when it was quite 
out of sight to ordinary mortals, and who had 
a spy-glass covered with a bit of tarpauling, 
with which he could spy up the crookedest 
river quite to its head-waters. He was accom- 
panied by M3mheer Ten Breeches, as land»- 
measurer, in case of any dispute with the 

What was the consequence of these explor- 
ing expeditions ? In a little while we find a 
frontier post or trading-house called Fort 
Nassau, established far to the south on Dela- 
ware River ; another, called Fort Goed Hoep 
(or Good Hope), on the Varsche, or Fresh, or 
Connecticut River, and another, called Fort 
Aurania (now Albany-), awa}^ up the Hudson 
River ; while the boundaries of the province kept 
extending on every side, nobody knew whither, 
far into the regions of Terra Incognita. 

lboIlanD’6 /llbaternal ipolici? 

Of the boundary feuds and troubles which 
the ambitious little province brought upon 
itself by these indefinite expansions of its 
territory, we shall treat at large in the after- 
pages of this eventful history ; sufiicient for 


the present is it to say that the swelling im- 
portance of the New Netherlands awakened 
the attention of the mother-country, who, 
finding it likely to yield much revenue and 
no trouble, began to take that interest in its 

B 1bi6tori5 of Ittevv l^ork 

welfare which knowing people evince for rich 

But as this opens a new era in the fortunes 
of New Amsterdam, I will here put an end to 
this second book of my history, and will treat 
of the maternal policy of the mother-country 
in my next. 


Chapter IF 


/ RIEVOUS and very much 

' commiserated is 

^ feeling 

^ historian, wdio writes 
history of his native 
land. If it fall to his 
lot to be the recorder 
of calamity 

^ the mournful page is 

watered with his tears ; 
nor can he recall the most prosperous and 
blissful era, without a melancholy sigh at the 
reflection that it has passed away forever ! I 
know not whether it be owing to an immod- 
erate love for the simplicity of former times, 
or to that certain tenderness of heart incident 
to all sentimental historians ; but I candidly 

or crime, 


21 Ibistor^ of IRevv 

confess that I cannot look back on the happier 
days of our city, which I now describe, with- 
out great dejection of spirit. With faltering 
hand do I withdraw the curtain of oblivion, 
that veils the modest merit of our venerable 
ancestors, and as their figures rise to my men- 
tal vision, humble myself before their mighty 

Such are my feelings when I revisit the fam- 
ily mansion of the Knickerbockers, and spend 
a lonely hour in the chamber where hang the 
portraits of my forefathers, shrouded in dust, 
like the forms they represent. With pious 
reverence do I gaze on the countenances of 
those renowned burghers, who have preceded 
me in the steady march of existence, — whose 
sober and temperate blood now meanders 
through my veins, flowing slower and slower 
in its feeble conduits, until its current shall 
soon be stopped forever ! 

These, I say to myself, are but frail memo- 
rials of the mighty men who flourished in the 
days of the patriarchs ; but who, alas, have 
long since mouldered in that tomb towards 
which my steps are insensibly and irresistibly 
hastening ! As I pace the darkened chamber 
and lose myself in melancholy musings, the 
shadowy images around me almost seem to 
steal once more into existence, — their counte- 

nances to assume the animation of life, — their 
eyes to pursue me in every movement ! Car- 
ried away by the delusions of fancy, I almost 
imagine myself surrounded by the shades 
of the departed, and holding sweet converse 
with the worthies of antiquity ! Ah, hapless 
Diedrich ! born in a degenerate age, abandoned 
to the buffetings of fortune, — a stranger and a 
wear}^ pilgrim in thy native land, — blest with 
no weeping wife, nor family of helpless chil- 
dren, but doomed to wander neglected through 
those crowded streets, and elbowed by foreign 
upstarts from those fair abodes where once 
thine ancestors held sovereign empire ! 

Let me not, however, lose the historian in 
the man, nor suffer the doting recollections of 
age to overcome me, while dwelling with fond 
garrulity on the virtuous days of the patriarchs, 
— on those sweet days of simplicity and ease, 
which never more will dawn on the lovely island 
of Manna-hata. 

These melancholy reflections have been 
forced from me by the growing wealth and im- 
portance of New Amsterdam, which, I plainly 
perceive, are to involve it in all kinds of perils 
and disasters. Already, as I observed at the 
close of my last book, they had awakened the 
attentions of the mother-country. The usual 
mark of protection shown by mother-countries 

^ i 


B Iblstor^ of IRew lorf? 

to wealthy colonies was forthwith manifested ; 
a governor being sent out to rule over the prov- 
ince, and squeeze out of it as much revenue as 
possible. The arrival of a governor of course 
put an end to the protectorate of Oloffe the 
Dreamer. He appears, however, to have dreamt 
to some purpose during his sway, as we find 
him afterwards living as a patroon on the great 
landed estate on the banks of the Hudson ; 
having virtually forfeited all fight to his an- 
cient appellation of Kortlandt or Lackland. 

It was in the year of our Lord 1629, that 
Mynheer Wouter Van Twiller was appointed 
governor of the province of Nieuw Nederlandts 
under the commission and control of their High 
Mightinesses the Lords States- General of the 
United Netherlands, and the privileged West 
India Company. 

This renowned old gentleman arrived at New 
Amsterdam in the merry month of June, the 
sweetest month in all the year ; when dan 
Apollo seems to dance up the transparent firm- 
ament, — when the robin, the thrush, and a 
thousand other wanton songsters, make the 
woods to resound with amorous ditties, and the 
luxurious little boblincon revels among the 
clover-blossoms of the meadows, — all which 
happy coincidence persuaded the old dames 
of New Amsterdam, who were skilled in the art 


of foretelling events, that this was to be a happy 
and prosperous administration. 

The renowned Wouter (or Walter) Van Twil- 
ler was descended from a long line of Dutch 
burgomasters, who had successively dozed away 
their lives and grown fat upon the bench of 
magistracy in Rotterdam ; and who had com- 
ported themselves with such singular wisdom 
and propriety, that they were never either 
heard or talked of — which, next to being uni- 
versally applauded, should be the object of 
ambition of all magistrates and rulers. There 
are two opposite ways by which some men 
make a figure in the world : one, by talking 
faster than they think, and the other, by hold- 
ing their tongues and not thinking at all. By 
the first, many a smatterer acquires the reputa- 
tion of a man of quick parts ; b}^ the other, 
many a dunderpate, like the owl, the stupidest 
of birds, comes to be considered the very type 
of wisdom. This, by the way, is a casual re- 
mark, which I would not, for the universe, 
have it thought I apply to Governor Van 
Twiller. It is true he was a man shut up 
within himself, like an oyster, and rarely 
spoke, except in monosyllables ; but then it 
was allowed he seldom said a foolish thing. 
So invincible was his gravity that he was never 
known to laugh or even to smile through the 

21 lbi6tor^ of mew WorR 

whole course of a long and prosperous life. 
Na\’, if a joke were uttered iii his presence, 
that set light-minded hearers in a roar, it was 
observed to throw him into a state of perplexity. 
Sometimes he would deign to inquire into the 
matter, and when, after much explanation, the 
joke was made as plain as a pike-staff, he would 
continue to smoke his pipe in silence, and at 
length, knocking out the ashes, would exclaim, 
“ Well ! I see nothing in all that to laugh 
about. ’ ’ 

With all his reflective habits, he never made 
up his mind on a subject. His adherents ac- 
counted for this by the astonishing magnitude 
of his ideas. He conceived ever}' subject on so 
grand a scale that he had not room in his head 
to turn it over and examine both sides of it. 
Certain it is, that, if any matter were pro- 
pounded to him on which ordinary mortals 
would rashly determine at first glance, he would 
put on a vague, mysterious look, shake his 
capacious head, smoke some time in profound 
.silence, and at length observe, that ‘ ‘ he had 
his doubts about the matter ’ ’ ; which gained 
him the reputation of a man slow of belief and 
not easily imposed upon. What is more, it 
gained him a lasting name ; for to this habit 
of the mind has been attributed his surname 
of Twiller ; which is said to be a corruption 

Governor Dan ^TwUler 

of the original Twijfler, or, in plain English, 

The person of this illustrious old gentleman 
was formed and proportioned, as though it had 
been moulded by the hands of some cunning 
Dutch statuary, as a model of majesty and 


lordly grandeur. He was exactl}' five feet six 
inches in height, and six feet five inches in cir- 
cumference. His head was a perfect sphere, 
and of such stupendous dimensions, that Dame 
Nature, with all her sex’s ingenuity, would 
have been puzzled to construct a neck capable 

B 1bi0tori5 of IRew lork 

of supporting it ; wherefore she wivSely declined 
the attempt, and settled it firmly on the top 
of his backbone, just between the shoulders. 
His body was oblong and particularly capa- 
cious at bottom ; which was wisely ordered 
by Providence, seeing that he was a man of 
sedentar}^ habits, and very averse to the idle 
labor of walking. His legs were short, but 
sturdy in proportion to the weight they had 
to sustain ; so that when erect he had not a 
little the appearance of a beer-barrel on skids. 
His face, that infallible index of the mind, 
presented a vast expanse, unfurrowed by any 
of those lines and angles which disfigure the 
human countenance with what is termed ex- 
pression. Two small gray eyes twinkled feebly 
in the midst, like two stars of lesser magnitude 
in a hazy firmament, and his full-fed cheeks, 
which seemed to have taken toll of everything 
that went into his mouth, were curiously mot- 
tled and streaked with dusky red, like a spit- 
zenberg apple. 

His habits were as regular as his person. 
He daily took his four stated meals, appropri- 
ating exactly an hour to each ; he smoked and 
doubted eight hours, and he slept the remaining 
twelve of the four-and-twenty. Such was the 
renowned Wouter Van Twiller, — a true phil- 
osopher, for his mind was either elevated above, 


sag ^ 

VOL. 1 — ic; ' 


B 1bi6tor^ of IRevv l^ork 

or tranquilly settled below, the cares and 
perplexities of this world. He had lived in it 
for years, without feeling the least curiosity to 
know whether the sun revolved round it, or it 
round the sun ; and he had watched, for at 
least half a century, the smoke curling from his 
pipe to the ceiling, without once troubling his 
head with any of those numerous theories by 
which a philosopher would have perplexed his 
brain, in accounting for its rising above the 
surrounding atmosphere. 

In his council he presided with great state 
and solemnity. He sat in a huge chair of solid 
oak, hewn in the celebrated forest of the 
Hague, fabricated by an experienced timmer- 
man of Amsterdam, and curiously carved about 
the arms and feet, into exact imitations of 
gigantic eagle’s claws. Instead of a sceptre, 
he swayed a long Turkish pipe, wrought with 
jasmin and amber, which had been presented 
to a stadtholder of Holland at the conclusion of 
a treaty with one of the petty Barbary powers. 
In this stately chair would he sit, and this mag- 
nificent pipe would he smoke, shaking his right 
knee with a constant motion, and fixing his 
eye for hours together upon a little print of Am- 
sterdam, which hung in a black frame against 
the opposite wall of the council-chamber. Nay, 
it has even been said, that when any delibera- 


Governor Dan ^Twiller 


tion of extraordinary length and intricacy was 
on the carpet, the renowned Wouter would shut 
his eyes for full two hours at a time, that he 
might not be disturbed by external objects ; 
and at such times the internal commotion of his 
mind was evinced by certain regular guttural 
sounds, which his admirers declared were 
merely the noise of conflict, made by his 
contending doubts and opinions. 

It is with infinite difficulty I have been 
enabled to collect these biographical anecdotes 
of the great man under consideration. The 
facts respecting him were so scattered and 
vague, and divers of them so questionable in 
point of authenticity, that I have had to give 
up the search after many, and decline the 
admission of still more, which would have 
tended to heighten the coloring of his portrait. 

I have been the more anxious to delineate 
fully the person and habits of Wouter Van 
Twiller, from the consideration that he was not 
only the first, but also the best governor that 
ever presided over this ancient and respectable 
province ; and so tranquil and benevolent was 
his reign, that I do not find throughout the 
whole of it a single instance of any offender 
being brought to punishment, — a most indu- 
bitable sign of a merciful governor, and a case 
unparalleled, excepting in the reign of the 



B *n3i6tor^ ot IRew lorf? 


illustrious King Log, from whom, it is hinted, 
the renowned Van Twiller was a lineal de- 

The very outset of the career of this ex- 
cellent magistrate was distinguished by an 
example of legal acumen, that gave flattering 
presage of a wise and equitable administration. 
The morning after he had been installed in office, 
and, at the moment that he^ was making his 
breakfast from a prodigious earthen dish, filled 
with milk and Indian pudding, he was inter- 
rupted by the appearance of Wandle Schoon- 
hoven, a very important old burgher of New 
Amsterdam, who complained bitterly of one 
Barent Bleecker, inasmuch as he refused to 
come to a settlement of accounts, seeing that 
there was a heavy balance in favor of the said 
Wandle. Governor Van Twiller, as I have 
alread}^ observed, was a man of few words ; he 
was likewise a mortal enemy to multiplying 
writings — or being disturbed at his breakfast. 
Having listened attentively to the statement of 
Wandle Schoonhoven, giving an occasional 
grunt, as he shovelled a spoonful of Indian 
pudding into his mouth, — either as a sign that 
he relished the dish, or comprehended the 
story, — he called unto him his constable, and 
pulling out of his breeches-pocket a huge jack- 
knife, despatched it after the defendant as a 

Governor Dan ^wilier 

summons, accompanied by his tobacco-box as a 

This summary process was as effectual in 
those simple days as was the seal-ring of 
the great Haroun-al-Raschid among the true 


believers. The two parties being confronted 
before him, each produced a book of accounts, 
written in a language and character that would 
have puzzled any but a High-Dutch commen- 
tator, or a learned decipherer of Egyptian 
obelisks. The sage Wouter took them one 



B Ibietov^ of IRew lj)orK 

after the other, and having poised them in his 
hands, and attentively counted over the num- 
ber of leaves, fell straightway into a very great 
doubt, and smoked for half an hour without say- 
ing a word ; at length laying his finger beside 
his nose, and shutting his eyes for a moment, 
with the air of a man who has just caught a 
subtle idea by the tail, he slowly took his 
pipe from his mouth, puffed forth a column 
of tobacco-smoke, and with marvellous gravity 
and solemnity pronounced, that, having care- 
fully counted over the leaves and weighed the 
books, it was found, that one was just as thick 
and as heavy as the other : therefore, it was 
the final opinion of the court that the ac- 
counts were equally balanced : therefore, Wan- 
dle should give Barent a receipt, and Barent 
should give Wandle a receipt, and the consta- 
ble should pay the costs. 

The decision, being .straightway made known, 
diffused general joy throughout New Amster- 
dam, for the people immediately perceived that 
they had a ver}^ wise and equitable magistrate 
to rule over them. But its happiest effect was, 
that not another lawsuit took place throughout 
the whole of his administration ; and the office 
of constable fell into .such decay that there 
was not one of lo.sel scouts known in the 
province for many 3^ear.s. I am the more par- 


Governor Dan ^Iwiller 

ticiilar in dwelling on this transaction, not 
only because I deem it one of the most sage 
and righteous judgments on record, and well 
worthy the attention of modern magistrates, but 
because it was a miraculous event in the his- 
tory of the renowned Wouter — being the only 
time he was ever known to come to a decision 
in the whole course of his life. 

Cbapter n 


N treating of the early gov- 
ernors of the province, I 
must caution my read- 
. ers against confounding 
them, in point of dig- 
nity and power, with 
those worthy gentlemen 
who are whimsically de- 

governors in 
this enlightened repub- 
lic, — a set of unhappy victims of popularit}’-, 
who are, in fact, the most dependent, hen- 
pecked beings in the community ; doomed to 
bear the secret goadings and corrections of 
their own party, and the sneers and revilings 
of the whole world beside ; set up, like geese 
at Christmas holidays, to be pelted and shot at 

Zbc :t6oarC) of /nbagistratea 


by ever>" whipster and vagabond in the land. 
On the contrary, the Dutch governors enjoyed 
that uncontrolled authority vested in all com- 
manders of distant colonies or territories. They 
were, in a manner, absolute despots in their 
little domains, lording it, if so disposed, over 
both law and gospel, and accountable to none 
but the mother-country ; which it is well 
known is astonishingly deaf to all complaints 
against its governors, provided they discharge 
the main duty of their station — squeezing out 
a good revenue. This hint will be of impor- 
tance, to prevent my readers from being seized 
with doubt and incredulity, whenever, in the 
course of this authentic history, they encoun- 
ter the uncommon circumstance of a governor 
acting with independence, and in opposition to 
the opinions of the multitude. 

To assist the doubtful Wouter in the arduous 
business of legislation, a board of magistrates 
was appointed, which presided immediately 
over the police. This potent body consisted 
of a schout or bailiff, with powers between 
those of the present mayor and sheriff ; five bur- 
germeesters, who were equivalent to aldermen ; 
and five schepens, who officiated as scrubs, 
subdevils, or bottle-holders to the burger- 
meesters, in the same manner as do assistant 
aldermen to their principals at the present 


B Ibistor^ of Bcw lotk 

day, — it being their duty to fill the pipes of 
the lordly burgermeesters, hunt the markets 
for delicacies for corporation dinners, and to 
discharge such other little offices of kindness 
as were occasionally required. It was, more- 
over, tacitly understood, though not specifically 
enjoined, that they should consider themselves 
as butts for the blunt wits of the burger- 
meesters, and should laugh ^most heartily at 
I all their jokes ; but this last was a duty as 
rarely called in action in those days as it is 
at present, and was shortly remitted, in con- 
sequence of the tragical death of a fat little 
schepen, who actually died of suffocation in an 
unsuccCvSsful effort to force a laugh at one of 
burgermee.ster Van Zandt’s best jokes. 

In return for these humble services, they 
were permitted to say yes and no at the council- 
board, and to have that enviable privilege, the 
run of the public kitchen, — being graciously 
permitted to eat, and drink, and smoke, at all 
; those snug junketings and public gormandiz- 
ings for which the ancient magistrates were 
equally famous with their modern successors. 
The post of schepen, therefore, like that of 
assistant alderman, was eagerly coveted by all 
your burghers of a certain description, who 
have a hugh relish for good feeding, and an 
I humble ambition to be great men in a small 

way, — who thirst after a little brief authority, 
that shall render them the terror of the alms- 
house and the bridewell, — that shall enable 
them to lord it over obsequious poverty, va- 
grant vice, outcast prostitution, and hunger- 
driven dishonesty,— that shall give to their 
beck a houndlike pack of catchpolls and 
bumbailiffs — tenfold greater rogues than the 
culprits they hunt down ! My readers will 



excuse this sudden warmth, which I confess is 
unbecoming of a grave historian, — but I have 
a mortal antipathy to catchpolls, bumbailiffs, 
and little-great men. 

The ancient magistrates of this city corre- 
sponded with those of the present time no less 
in form, magnitude, and intellect, than in 
prerogative and privilege. The burgomasters, 
like our aldermen, were generally chosen by 


weight, — and not only the weight of the body, 
but likewise the weight of the head. It is a 
maxim practically observed in all honest, plain- 
thinking, regular cities, that an alderman 
should be fat, — and the wisdom of this can be 
proved to a certainty. That the body is in 
some measure an image of the mind, or rather 
that the mind is moulded to the body, like 
melted lead to the clay in which it is cast, has 
been insisted on by many philosophers, who 
have made human nature their peculiar study ; 
for, as a learned gentleman of our own city ob- 
serves, ‘ ‘ there is a constant relation between 
the moral character of all intelligent creatures 
and their physical constitution, between their 
habits and the structure of their bodies.” 
Thus w^e see that a lean, spare, diminutive 
body is generally accompanied by a petulant, 
restless, meddling mind : either the mind 
wears down the body, by its continual motion, 
or else the body, not affording the mind suffi- 
cient house-room, keeps it continually in a 
state of fretfulness, tossing and worrying 
about from the uneasiness of its situation. 
Whereas 3^our round, sleek, fat, unwieldy pe- 
riphery is ever attended by a mind like itself, 
tranquil, torpid, and at ease ; and we may 
always observe, that your well-fed, robustious 
burghers are in general very tenacious of their 


^Tbe 2)octrinc6 of plato 

ease and comfort, being great enemies to noise, 
discord, and disturbance, — and surely none are 
more likely to study the public tranquillity than 
those who are so careful of their own. Who 
ever hears of fat men heading a riot, or herd- 


ing together in turbulent mobs? — no — no ; it 
is your lean, hungry men who are continually 
worrying society, and setting the whole com- 
munity by the ears. 

The divine Plato, whose doctrines are not 

’/ / 

sufficiently attended to by philosophers of the 
present age, allows to every man three souls : 
one, immortal and rational, seated in the brain, 
that it may overlook and regulate the body ; 
a second, consisting of the surly and irascible 
passions which, like belligerent powers, lie 
encamped around the heart ; a third, mortal 
and sensual, destitute of reason, gross and 
brutal in its propensities, and enchained in the 
belly, that it may not disturb the divine soul 
by its ravenous bowlings. Now, according to 
this excellent theory, what can be more clear 
than that your fat alderman is most likely 
to have the most regular and well-conditioned 
mind. His head is like a huge spherical 
chamber, containing a prodigious mass of soft 
brains, whereon the rational soul lies softly 
and snugly couched, as on a feather-bed ; and 
the eyes, which are the windows of the bed- 
chamber, are usually half closed, that its 
slumberings may not be disturbed by external 
objects. A mind thus comfortably lodged, 
and protected from disturbance, is manifestly 
most likely to perform its functions with regu- 
larity and ease. By dint of good feeding, 
moreover, the mortal and malignant soul, 
which is confined in the belly, and which, by 
its raging and roaring, puts the irritable soul 
in the neighborhood of the heart in an intoler- 

1bow to /iRake a ILcnient 

able passion, and thus renders men crusty and 
quarrelsome when hungry, is completel}^ paci- 
fied, silenced, and put to rest, — whereupon a 
host of honest, good- fellow qualities and kind- 
hearted affections, which had lain perdue, slyly 
peeping out of the loop-holes of the heart, find- 
ing this Cerberus asleep, do pluck up their 
spirits, turn out one and all in their holiday 
suits, and gambol up and down the diaphragm, 
— disposing their possessor to laughter, good- 
humor, and a thousand friendly offices towards 
his fellow-mortals. 

As a board of magistrates, formed on this 
principle, think but very little, they are the 
less likely to differ and wrangle about favorite 
opinions ; and as they generally transact busi- 
ness upon a hearty dinner, they are naturally 
disposed to be lenient and indulgent in the 
administration of their duties. Charlemagne 
was conscious of this, and therefore ordered in 
his cartularies, that no judge should hold a 
court of justice, except in the morning, on an 
empty stomach ; — a pitiful rule, which I can 
never forgive, and which I warrant bore hard 
upon all the poor culprits in the kingdom. 
The more enlightened and humane generation 
of the present day have taken an opposite 
course, and have so managed that the aldermen 
are the best-fed men in the community ; feast- 



B Ibistori? of IRcw ]it)orf? 

iiig lustily on the fat things of the land, and 
gorging so heartily on oysters and turtles, that 
in process of time they acquire the activit}^ of 
the one, and the form, the waddle, and the 
green fat of the other. The consequence is, as 
I have just said, these luxurious feastings do 
produce such a dulcet equanimity and repose of 
the soul, rational and irrational, that their trans- 
actions are proverbial for unvarying monotony ; 
and the profound laws which they enact in their 
dozing moments, amid the labors of digestion, 
are quietly suffered to remain as dead letters, 
and never enforced, when awake. In a word, 
your fair, round-bellied burgomaster, like a 
full-fed mastiff, dozes quietly at the house-door, 
always at home, and always at hand to watch 
over its safety ; but as to electing a lean, 
meddling candidate to the office, as has now and 
then been done, I would as lief put a greyhound 
to watch the house, or a race-horse to draw an 

The burgomasters, then, as I have already 
mentioned, were wisely chosen by weight, and 
the schepens, or assistant aldermen, were ap- 
pointed to attend upon them and help them 
eat ; but the latter, in the course of time, when 
they had been fed and fattened into sufficient 
bulk of body and drowsiness of brain, became 
very eligible candidates for the burgomasters’ 


‘Wflouter auD Ibis Scbcpens 241 

chairs, having fairly eaten themselves into 
office, as a mouse eats his way into a com- 
fortable lodgment in a goodly, blue-nosed, 
skimmed-milk, New-England cheese. 

Nothing could equal the profound delibera- 
tions that took place between the renowned 
Wouter and these his worthy compeers, unless 
it be the sage divans of some of our modern 
corporations. They would sit for hours, 
smoking and dozing over public affairs, with- 
out speaking a word to interrupt that perfect 
stillness so necessary to deep reflection. Under 
the sober sway of Wouter Van Twiller and 
these his worthy coadjutors, the infant settle- 
ment waxed vigorous apace, gradually emerg- 
ing from the swamps and forests, and exhibiting 
that mingled appearance of town and country, 
customary in new cities, and which at this 
day may be witnessed in the city of Washing- 
ton, — that immense metropolis, which makes 
so glorious an appearance on paper. 

It was a pleasing sight, in those times, to 
behold the honest burgher, like a patriarch of 
yore, seated on the bench at the door of his white- 
washed house, under the shade of some gigantic 
sycamore or overhanging willow. Here would 
he smoke his pipe of a sultry afternoon, en- 
joying the soft southern breeze, and listening 
with silent gratulation to the clucking of his 

VOL. I.— 16 

242 B Ibietor^ of IWew l^orft 

hens, the cackling of his geese, and the sonorous 
grunting of his swine, — that combination of 
farm-yard melody which may truly be said to 
have a silver sound, inasmuch as it conveys a 
certain assurance of profitable marketing. 

The modern spectator, who wanders through 
the streets of this populous city, can scarcely 
form an idea of the different appearance they 
presented in the primitive days of the Doubter. 
The busy hum of multitudes, the shouts of 
revelry, the rumbling equipages of fashion, 
the rattling of accursed carts, and all the spirit- 
grieving sounds of brawling commerce, were 
unknown in the settlement of New Amsterdam. 
The grass grew quietly in the highways ; the 
bleating sheep and frolicsome calves sported 
about the verdant ridge, where now the Broad- 
way loungers take their morning stroll ; the 
cunning fox or ravenous wolf skulked in the 
woods, where now are to be seen the dens of 
Gomez and his righteous fraternity of money- j 
brokers ; and flocks of vociferous geese cackled \ 
about the fields where now the great Tammany j 
wigwam and the patriotic tavern of Martling 1 
echo with the wranglings of the mob. 

In these good times did a true and enviable 
equality of rank and property prevail, equally 
removed from the arrogance of wealth, and the 
servility and heart-burnings of repining pov- 



B Iblstors of IFlew JJorft 

erty ; and, what in my mind is still more con- 
ducive to tranquillity and harmony among 
friends, a happy equality of intellect was like- 
wise to be seen. The minds of the good burgh- 
ers of New Amsterdam seemed all to have been 
cast in one mould, and to be those honest, blunt 
minds, which, like certain manufactures, are 
made by the gross, and considered as exceed- 
ingly good for common use. 

Thus it happens that your true dull minds 
are generally preferred for public employ, and 
especially promoted to city honors ; your keen 
intellects, like razors, being considered too 
sharp for common service. I know that it is 
common to rail at the unequal distribution of 
riches, as the great source of jealousies, broils, 
and heart-breakings ; whereas, for my part, I 
verily believe it is the sad inequality of intel- 
lect that prevails, that embroils communities 
more than anything else ; and I have remarked 
that 3^our knowing people, who are so much 
wiser than anybody else, are eternally keep- 
ing society in a ferment. Happily for New 
Amsterdam, nothing of the kind was known 
within its walls ; the very words of learn- 
ing, education, taste, and talents were unheard 
of ; a bright genius was an animal unknown, 
and a blue-stocking lady would have been 
regarded with as much wonder as a horned 




. 0 ^ 

CTbc 3Bles9in99 of H^norance 

frog or a fiery dragon. No man, in fact, seemed 
to know more than his neighbor, nor any man 
to know more than an honest man ought to 
know, who has nobody’s business to mind but 
his own ; the parson and the council clerk 

Vll/'W , 


were the only men that could read in that 
community, and the sage Van Twiller always 
signed his name with a cross. 

Thrice happy and ever to be envied little 
Burgh ! existing in all the security of harmless 
insignificance, — unnoticed and unenvied by the 

world, without ambition, without vainglory, 
without riches, without learning, and all their 
train of carking cares ; — and as of yore, in the 
better days of man, the deities were wont to 
visit him on earth and, bless his rural habita- 
tions, so, we are told, in the sylvan days of 
New Amsterdam, the good St. Nicholas would 
often make his appearance in his beloved city, 
of a holiday afternoon, riding jollily among the 
tree-tops, or over the roofs of the houses, now 
and then drawing forth magnificent presents 
from his breeches-pockets, and dropping them 
down the chimneys of his favorites. Whereas, 
in these degenerate days of iron and brass, he 
never shows us the light of his countenance, 
nor ever visits us, save one night in the year, 
when he rattles down the chimneys of the de- 
scendants of patriarchs, confining his presents 
merely to the children, in token of the degen- 
eracy of the parents. 

Such are the comfortable and thriving effects 
of a fat government. The province of the New 
Netherlands, destitute of wealth, possessed a 
sweet tranquillity that wealth could never pur- 
chase. There were neither public commotions, 
nor private quarrels ; neither parties, nor sects, 
nor schisms ; neither persecutions, nor trials, 
nor punishments ; nor were there counsellors, 
attorneys, catchpolls, or hangmen. Every 



Cbe B\?en {Tenor of flbeir 247 


man attended to what little business he was 


lucky enough to have, or neglected it if he 
pleased, without asking the opinion of his 

neighbor. In those days nobody meddled with | 

concerns above his comprehension ; nor thrust 

his nose into other people’s affairs ; nor ne- 
glected to correct his own conduct, and reform 
his own character, in his zeal to pull to pieces 
the characters of others ; but, in a word, every 


respectable citizen ate when he was not hungry. 

drank when he was not thirsty, and went regu- 

W m 

larly to bed when the sun set and the fowls 

1 ) 

went to roost, whether he was sleepy or not ; 

\ il 

all which tended so remarkably to the popula- 

V / 


tion of the settlement, that I am told every 


dutiful wife throughout New Amsterdam made 
a point of enriching her husband with at least 
one child a year and very often a brace, — this 



superabundance of good things clearly consti- 
tuting the true luxury of life, according to the 


favorite Dutch maxim, that “ more than enough 
constitutes a feast.” Everything, therefore, 
went on exactly as it should do, and in the usual 
words employed by historians to express the 


welfare of a country, ‘ ‘ the profoundest tran- 

l'^- 1 

quillity and repose reigned throughout the prov- 

I [,) 



1 ■' M 


Chapter 1I1F1I 


H /jANIFOLD are the tastes 

I I dispositions of the 

f enlightened /i^erafi, who 
J'f / pages of 

history. Some there be 
' < whose hearts are brim- 

ful of the yeast of cour- 
'.LSa age, and whose bosoms 

do work, and swell, and 
foam, with untried valor, like a barrel of new 
cider, or a train-band captain, fresh from under 
the hands of his tailor. This' doughty class 
of readers can be satisfied with nothing but 
bloody battles, and horrible encounters ; they 
must be continually storming forts, sacking 
cities, springing mines, marching up to the 
muzzles of cannon, charging bayonet through 
every page, and revelling in gunpowder and 

IDadous Xitcrar^ ^Tastes 

carnage. Others, who are of a less martial, but 
equally ardent imagination, and who, withal, 
are a little given to the marvellous, will dwell 
with wondrous satisfaction on descriptions 
of prodigies, unheard-of events, hair-breadth 
escapes, hardy adventures, and all those aston- 
ishing narrations which just amble along 
the boundary line of possibility. A third 
class, who, not to speak slightly of them, are 
of a lighter turn, and skim over the records of 
past times, as they do over the edifying pages 
of a novel, merely for relaxation and innocent 
amusement, do singularl}^ delight in treasons, 
executions, Sabine rapes, Tarquin outrages, 
conflagrations, murders, and all the other cata- 
logue of hideous crimes, which, like cayenne in 
cookery, do give a pungency and flavor to the 
dull detail of history. While a fourth class, 
of more philosophic habits, do diligently pore 
over the musty chronicles of time, to investi- 
gate the operations of the human kind, and 
watch the gradual changes in men and man- 
ners, effected by the progress of knowledge, the 
vicissitudes of events, or the influence of situ- 

If the three first classes find but little where- 
withal to solace themselves in the tranquil 
reign of Wouter Van T wilier, I entreat them to 
exert their patience for a while, and bear with 



B Ibistor^ of IRew )t)ork 

the tedious picture of happiness, prosperity, and 
peace, which my dut^^ as a faithful historian 
obliges me to draw ; and I promise them, that, 
as soon as I can possibly alight on anything 
horrible, uncommon, or impossible, it shall go 
hard, but I will make it afford them entertain- 
ment. This being premised, I turn with great 
complacency to the fourth class of my readers, 
who are men, or, if possible, women after my 
own heart ; grave, philosophical, and investi- 
gating ; fond of analyzing characters, of taking 
a start from first causes, and so hunting a 
nation down, through all the mazes of innova- 
tion and improvement. Such will naturally be 
anxious to witness the first development of the 
newly-hatched colony, and the primitive man- 
ners and customs prevalent among its inhabi- 
tants, during the halcyon reign of Van Twiller, 
or the Doubter. 

I will not grieve their patience, however, b}" 
describing minutely the increase and improve- 
ment of New Amsterdam. Their own imagi- 
nations will doubtless present to them the good 
burghers, like so many painstaking and perse- 
vering beavers, slowly and surely pursuing their 
labors : they will behold the prosperous trans- 
formation from the rude log hut to the stately 
Dutch mansion, with brick front, glazed win- 
dows, and tiled roof ; from the tangled thicket 


1 bow tbe Streets ‘Wllere /ibaDe 251 

to the luxuriant cabbage-garden ; and from the 
skulking Indian to the ponderous burgomaster. 
In a word, they will picture to themselves the 
steady, silent, and undeviating march of pros- 
perity, incident to a city destitute of pride or 
ambition, cherished by a fat government, and 
whose citizens do nothing in a hurry. 

The sage council, as has been mentioned in 
a preceding chapter, not being able to deter- 
mine upon any plan for the building of their 
city, — the cows, in a laudable fit of patriotism, 
took it under their peculiar charge, and, as 
they went to and from pasture, established 
paths through the bushes, on each side of 
which the good folks built their houses, — 
which is one cause of the rambling and pic- 
turesque turns and labyrinths which distin- 
guish certain streets of New York at this very 

The houses of the higher class were gener- 
ally constructed of wood, excepting the gable 
end which was of small black and yellow 
Dutch bricks, and always faced on the street, 
as our ancestors, like their descendants, were 
very much given to outward show, and were 
noted for putting the best leg foremost. The 
house was always furnished with abundance 
of large doors and small windows on every 
floor, the date of its erection was curiously 

252 B Ibistor^ of IRew ll)ork 

designated by iron figures on the front, and on 
the top of the roof was perched a fierce little 
weathercock, to let the family into the impor- 
tant secret which way the wind blew. 

These, like the weathercocks on the tops of 
our steeples, pointed so many different ways, 
that every man could have a wind to his mind ; 
— the most stanch and loyal citizens, however, 
always went according to the weathercock on 
the top of the governor’s house, which was 
certainly the most correct, as he had a trusty 
servant employed every morning to climb up 
and set it to the right quarter. 

In those good days of simplicity and sunshine, 
a passion for cleanliness was the leading princi- 
ple in domestic economy, and the universal test 
of an able housewife, — a character which formed 
the utmost ambition of our unenlightened 
grandmothers. The front- door was never 
opened, except on marriages, funerals, New- 
Year’s days, the festival of St. Nicholas, or 
some such great occasion. It was ornamented 
with a gorgeous brass knocker, curiously 
wrought, sometimes in the device of a dog, and 
sometimes of a lion’s head, and was daily bur- 
nished with such religious zeal, that it was oft- 
times worn out by the very precautions taken 
for its preservation. The whole house was 
constantly in a state of inundation, under the 

XLbc (3ranD parlor 

discipline of mops and brooms and scrubbing- 
brushes ; and the good housewives of those 
days were a kind of amphibious animal, 
delighting exceedingly to be dabbling in water, 
— insomuch that an historian of the day gravely 
tells us, that many of his townswomen grew to 
have webbed fingers like unto a duck ; and 


some of them, he had little doubt, could the 
matter be examined into, would be found to 
have the tails of mermaids, — but this I look 
upon to be a mere sport of fancy, or, what is 
worse, a wilful misrepresentation. 

The grand parlor was the sanctum sanc- 
torum, where the passion for cleaning was 


B IfDistor^ of IRew l|)orF? 

indulged without control. In this sacred apart- 
ment no one was permitted to enter, excepting 
the mistress and her confidential maid, who 
visited it once a week, for the purpose of giving | 
it a thorough cleaning, and putting things to 
rights, — always taking the precaution of 
leaving their shoes at the door, and entering 
devoutly on their stocking-feet. After scrub- 
bing the floor, sprinkling it with fine white ; 
sand, which was curiously stroked into angles ! 
and curves and rhomboids with a broom, — 
after washing the windows, rubbing and polish- i 
ing the furniture, and putting a new bunch 
of evergreens in the fireplace, — the window- 
shutters were again closed to keep out the flies, j 
and the room carefully locked up until the 
revolution of time brought round the weekly 
cleaning-day. I 

As to the family, they always entered in at i 
the gate, and most generally lived in the ' 
kitchen. To have seen a numerous household 
assembled round the fire, one would have 
imagined that he was transported back to those 
happy days of primeval simplicity, which float 
before our imaginations like golden visions. ; 
The fireplaces were of a truly patriarchal mag- ' 
nitude, where the whole family, old and young, 
master and servant, black and white, nay, 
even the very cat and dog, enjoyed a com- ; 

H)ome6tic If^abits 

munity of privilege, and had each a right to 
a corner. Here the old burgher would sit in 
perfect silence, puffing his pipe, looking in the 
fire with half-shut eyes, and thinking of noth- 
ing for hours together ; the goede vrouw, on the 
opposite side, would employ herself diligently 
in spinning yarn, or knitting stockings. The 


young folks would crowd around the hearth, 
listening with breathless attention to some old 
crone of a negro, who was the oracle of the 
family, and who, perched like a raven in a 
corner of the chimney, would croak forth for a 
long winter afternoon a string of incredible 
stories about New-Kngland witches, — grisly 

256 B Ibiators of IRcw l^ork | 

ghosts, horses without heads, — and hair- 
breadth escapes, and bloody encounters among 
the Indians. 

In those happy days a well-regulated family i 
always rose with the dawn, dined at eleven, 
and went to bed at sunset. Dinner was invari- i 
ably a private meal, and the fat old burghers 
showed incontestable signs of disapprobation 
and uneasiness at being surprised by a visit 
from a neighbor on such occasions. But 
though our worthy ancestors were singularly 
averse to giving dinners, yet they kept up the 
social bands of intimacy by occasional banquet- 
ings, called tea-parties. 

These fashionable parties were generally | 
confined to the higher classes, or noblesse, | 
that is to say, such as kept their own cows, j 
and drove their own wagons. The company i 
commonl}" assembled at three o’clock, and i 
went away about six, unless it was in winter- 
time, when the fashionable hours were a lit- j 
tie earlier, that the ladies might get home I 
before dark. The tea-table was crowned with 
a huge earthen dish, well stored with slices 
of fat pork, fried brown, cut up into morsels, | 
and swimming in gravy. The company being I 
seated round the genial board, and each fur- | 
nished with a fork, evinced their dexterity in 
launching at the fattest pieces in this mighty 

dish, — ill much the same manner as sailors 
harpoon porpoises at vSea, or our Indians spear 
salmon in the lakes. Sometimes the table was 
graced with immense apple-pies, or saucers full 
of preserved peaches and pears ; but it was 
always sure to boast an enormous dish of balls 
of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and 
called doughnuts, or olykoeks, — a delicious 
kind of cake, at present scarce known in this 
city, except in genuine Dutch families. 

The tea was served out of a majestic Delft 
tea-pot, ornamented with paintings of fat lit- 
tle Dutch shepherds and shepherdesses tending 
pigs, with boats sailing in the air, and houses 
built in the clouds, and sundry other ingenious 
Dutch fantasies. The beaux distinguished 
themselves by their adroitness in replenishing 
this pot from a huge copper tea-kettle, which 
would have made the pigmy macaronies of 
these degenerate days sweat merely to look at 
it. To sweeten the beverage, a lump of sugar 
was laid beside each cup, and the company 
alternately nibbled and sipped with great de- 
corum, until an improvement was introduced 
by a shrewd and economic old lady, which 
was to suspend a large lump directly over the 
tea-table, by a string from the ceiling, so that 
it could be swung from mouth to mouth, — an 
ingenious expedient, which is still kept up by 

VOL. I. — 17 

i\ n 

1 A 

258 B 1F3i6tor^ of IRew 

some families in Albany, but which prevails 
without exception in Communipaw, Bergen, 
Flatbiish, and all our uncontaminated Dutch 

At these primitive tea-parties the utmost 
propriety and dignity of deportment prevailed. 
No flirting nor coquetting, — no gambling of 
old ladies, nor hoyden chattering and romping 
of young ones, — no self-satisfied struttings of 
wealthy gentlemen, with their brains in their 
pockets, nor amusing conceits and monkey 
divertisements of smart young gentlemen, 
with no brains at all. On the contrary, the 
young ladies seated themselves demurely in 
their rush-bottom chairs, and knit their own 
woollen stockings ; nor ever opened their 
lips excepting to say yah My7iheer, or, yah 
ya Vrouw, to any question that was asked 
them ; behaving in all things like decent, well- 
educated damsels. As to the gentlemen, each 
of them tranquilly smoked his pipe, and 
seemed lost in contemplation of the blue and 
white tiles with which the fireplaces were 
decorated ; wherein sundry passages of Script- 
ure were piously portra 3 ^ed : Tobit and his dog 
figured to great advantage ; Hainan swung 
conspicuously on his gibbet ; and Jonah ap- 
peared most manfully bouncing out of the 
whale, like Harlequin through a barrel of fire. 

JEttquctte of tbe IRobleese 

The parties broke up without noise and 
without confusion. They were carried home 
by their own carriages, that is to say, by the 
vehicles nature had provided them, excepting 


such of the wealthy as could afford to keep a 
wagon. The gentlemen gallantly attended 
their fair ones to their respective abodes, and 
took leave of them with a hearty smack at the 

B 1f3i6tori5 of IRcvv l^ork 

door : which, as it was an established piece of 
etiquette, done in perfect simplicity and hon- 
est}^ of heart, occasioned no scandal at that 
time, nor should it at the present ; — if our 
great-grandfathers approved of the custom, it 
would argue a great want of deference in their 
descendants to say a word against it. 


Chapter IllD 


genteeman in the days of waeter the 

N this dulcet period of my 
history, when the beaute- 
ous island of Manna- 
hata presented a scene, 
the very counterpart of 
those glowing pictures 
drawn of the golden 
of Saturn, there 


was, as I have before observed, a happy ig- 
norance, an honest simplicity prevalent among 
its inhabitants, which, were I even able to 
depict, would be but little understood by the 
degenerate age for which I am doomed to 
write. Even the female sex, those arch inno- 
vators upon the tranquillity, the honesty, and 
gray-beard customs of society, seemed for a 
while to conduct themselves with incredible 
sobriety and comeliness. 

262 B ibistoi*^ of IRcvv 

Their hair, iintortured by the abominations 
of art, was scrupulously pomatumed back 
from their foreheads with a candle, and cov- 
ered with a little cap of quilted calico, which 
fitted exactly to their heads. Their petticoats 
of linsey-woolsey were striped with a variety 
of gorgeous dyes, — though I must confess 
these gallant garments were rather short, 
scarce reaching below the knee ; but then they 
made up in the number, which generally 
equalled that of the gentleman’s small-clothes ; 
and what is still more praiseworthy, the}^ were 
all of their own manufacture, — of which cir- 
cumstance, as may well be supposed, they 
were not a little vain. 

These were the honest days in which every 
woman staid at home, read the Bible, and wore 
pockets, — a}’, and that too of a goodly size, 
fashioned with patchwork into many curious 
devices, and ostentatiously worn on the out- 
side. These, in fact, were convenient recepta- 
cles, where all good housewives carefully 
stored away such things as they wished to 
have at hand ; by which means they often 
came to be incredibly crammed ; and I remem- 
ber there was a story current, when I was a 
boy, that the lady of Wouter Van Twiller once 
had occasion to empt}^ her right pocket in 
search of a wooden ladle, when the contents 

filled a couple of corn-baskets, and the utensil 
was discovered lying among some rubbish in 
one corner ; — but we must not give too much 
faith to all these stories, the anecdotes of those 
remote periods being very subject to exaggera- 

Besides these notable pockets, they likewise 
wore scissors and pin-cushions suspended from 
their girdles by red ribands, or, among the 
more opulent and showy classes, by brass, and 
even silver chains, — indubitable tokens of 
thrifty housewives and industrious spinsters. I 
cannot say much in vindication of the short- 
ness of the petticoats ; it doubtless was 
introduced for the purpose of giving the 
stockings a chance to be seen, which were 
generally of blue worsted, with magnificent red 
clocks, — or, perhaps, to display a well-turned 
ankle, and a neat, though serviceable foot, set 
off by a high-heeled leathern shoe, with a large 
and splendid silver buckle. Thus we find 
that the gentle sex in all ages have shown the 
same disposition to infringe a little upon the 
laws of decorum, in order to betray a lurking 
beauty, or gratify an innocent love of finery. 

From the sketch here given, it will be seen 
that our good grandmothers differed consider- 
ably in their ideas of a fine figure from their 
scantily dressed descendants of the present day. 



B Ibibtor^ of IRew ^ovk 

A fine lady, in those times, waddled under more 
clothes, even on a fair summer’s day, than 
would have clad the whole bevy of a modern 
ball-room. Nor were they the less admired 
by the gentlemen in consequence thereof. On 
the contrary, the greatness of a lover’s passion 
seemed to increase in proportion to the magni- 
tude of its object, — and a voluminous damsel, 
arrayed in a dozen of petticoats, was declared 
by a Low- Dutch sonneteer of the province to 
be radiant as a sunflower, and luxuriant as a 
full-blown cabbage. Certain it is, that in 
those days the heart of a lover could not con- 
tain more than one lady at a time ; whereas 
the heart of a modern gallant has often room 
enough to accommodate half a dozen. The 
reason of which I conclude to be, that either 
the hearts of the gentlemen have grown larger, 
or the persons of the ladies smaller : this, 
however, is a question for physiologists to 

But there was a secret charm in these petti- 
coats, which, no doubt, entered into the consid- 
eration of the prudent gallants. The wardrobe 
of a lady was in those days her only fortune ; 
and she who had a good stock of petticoats and 
stockings was as absolutely an heiress as is a 
Kamtchatka damsel with a store of bear-skins, 
or a Lapland belle with a plenty of reindeer. 



The ladies, therefore, were very anxious to 
display these powerful attractions to the 
greatest advantage ; and the best rooms in the 
house, instead of being adorned with carica- 
tures of Dame Nature, in water-colors and 
needle- work, were always hung round with 
abundance of homespun garments, the manufac- 
ture and the property of the females, — a piece 
of laudable ostentation that still prevails among 
the heiresses of our Dutch villages. 

The gentlemen, in fact, who figured in the 
circles of the gay world in these ancient times, 
corresponded, in most particulars, with the 
beauteous damsels whose smiles they were ambi- 
tious to deserve. True it is, their merits would 
make but a very inconsiderable impression upon 
the heart of a modern fair ; they neither drove 
their curricles, nor sported their tandems, for as 
yet those gaudy vehicles were not even dreamt 
of ; neither did they distinguish themselves by 
their brilliancy at the table, and their conse- 
quent rencontres with watchmen, for our fore- 
fathers were of too pacific a disposition to 
need those guardians of the night, every soul 
throughout the town being sound asleep before 
nine o’clock. Neither did they establish their 
claims to gentility at the expense of their 
tailors, for as yet those offenders against the 
pockets of society, and the tranquillity of all 

Zbc (3ai5 Cavaliers 


aspiring young gentlemen, were unknown in 
New iVmsterdam ; every good housewife made 
the clothes of her husband and family, and 
even the goede vrouw of Van Twiller himself 
thought it no disparagement to cut out her 
husband’s linsey-woolsey galligaskins. 

Not but what there were some two or three 
youngsters who manifested the first dawning 
of what is called fire and spirit ; who held 
all labor in contempt ; skulked about docks 
and market-places ; loitered in the sunshine ; 
squandered what little money they could pro- 
cure at hustlecap and chuck-farthing ; swore, 
boxed, fought cocks, and raced their neigh- 
bors’ horses ; in short, who promised to be 
the wonder, the talk, and abomination of the 
town, had not their stylish career been unfor- 
tunately cut short by an affair of honor with a 

Far other, however, was the truly fashion- 
able gentleman of those days : his dress, 
which served for both morning and evening, 
street and drawing-room, was a linsey-woolsey 
coat, made, perhaps, by the fair hands of the 
mistress of his affections, and gallantly be- 
decked with abundance of large brass but- 
tons ; half a score of breeches heightened the 
proportions of his figure ; his shoes were 
decorated by enormous copper buckles ; a low- 


7 , 


B Ibistor^ of IRevv 

crowned broad-rimmed hat overshadowed his 
burly visage ; and his hair dangled down his 
back in a prodigious queue of eel-skin. 

Thus equipped, he would manfully sally 
forth, with pipe in mouth, to besiege some fair 
damsel’s obdurate heart, — not such a pipe, 
good reader, as that which Acis did sweetly 
tune in praise of his Galatea, but one of true 
Delft manufacture, and furnished with a charge 
I of fragrant tobacco. With this would he reso- 
lutely set himself down before the fortress, and 
rarely failed, in the process of time, to smoke 
the fair enemy into a surrender, upon honor- 
able terms. 

Such was the happy reign of Wouter Van 
Twiller, celebrated in many a long-forgotten 
song as the real golden age, the rest being 
nothing but counterfeit copper- washed coin. 
In that delightful period, a sweet and holy 
calm reigned over the whole province. The 
burgomaster smoked his pipe in peace ; the 
substantial solace of his domestic cares, after 
her daily toils were done, sat soberly at the 
door, with her arms crossed over her apron of 
snowy white, without being insulted with 
ribald street-walkers or vagabond boys, — those 
unlucky urchins who do so infest our streets, 
displaying, under the roses of youth, the 
thorns and briers of iniquit}’. Then it was 

Zbc ©olOen B^c 

that the lover with ten breeches, and the dam- 
sel with petticoats of half a score, indulged in 
all the innocent endearments of virtuous love, 
without fear and without reproach ; for what 
had that virtue to fear, which was defended 


by a shield of good linsey-woolseys, equal at 
least to the seven bull-hides of the invincible 

Ah, blissful and never-to-be-forgotten age ! 
when everything was better than it has ever 
been since, or ever will be again, — when But- 
termilk Channel was quite dry at low water, — 

270 B of IWevv ll)ork 

when the shad in the Hudson were aii salmon, 
— and when the moon shone with a pure and 
resplendent whiteness, instead of that melan- 
choly yellow light which is the consequence 
of her sickening at the abominations she every 
night witnesses in this degenerate city ! 

Happy would it have been for New Amster- 
dam could it always have existed in this state 
of blissful ignorance and lowly vsimplicity ; 
but, alas ! the days of childhood are too sweet 
to last ! Cities, like men, grow out of them 
in time, and are doomed alike to grow into 
the bustle, the cares, and miseries of the 
world. Let no man congratulate himself, 
when he beholds the child of his bosom or 
the city of his birth increasing in magnitude 
and importance, — let the historj^ of his own 
life teach him the dangers of the one, and this 
excellent little history of Manna-hata convince 
him of the calamities of the other. 

Cbapter ID, 


T has already been men 

times of Oloffe 
the Dreamer, a frontier- 
post, or trading-house, 
called Fort " Aurania, 
had been established 
on the upper waters of 
the Hudson, precisely 
on the site of the pres- 
ent venerable city of Albany ; which was at 
that time considered at the very end of the 
habitable world. It was, indeed, a remote 
possession, with which, for a long time. New 
Amsterdam held but little intercourse. Now 
and then the “Company’s Yacht,’’ as it was 
called, was sent to the fort with supplies, and 


to bring away the peltries which had been 
purchased of the Indians. It was like an ex- 
pedition to the Indias, or the North Pole, and 
always made great talk in the settlement. 
Sometimes an adventurous burgher would ac- 
company the expedition, to the great uneasi- 
ness of his friends ; but, on his return, had so 
many stories to tell of storms and tempests 
on the Tappaan Zee, of hobgoblins in the 
Highlands and at the Devil’s Dans Kammer, 
and of all the other wonders and perils with 
which the river abounded in those early days, 
that he deterred the less adventurous inhabi- 
tants from following his example. 

Matters were in this state, when, one day, 
as Walter the Doubter and his burgermeesters 
were smoking and pondering over the affairs 
of the province, they were roused by the re- 
port of a cannon. Sallying forth, they beheld 
a strange vessel at anchor in the bay. It was 
unquestionably of Dutch build, broad-bottomed 
and high-pooped, and bore the flag of their 
High Mightinesses at the mast-head. 

After a while, a boat put off for land, and a 
stranger stepped onshore, — a lofty, lordly kind 
of man, tall, and dry, with a meagre face, fur- 
nished with huge moustaches. He was clad 
in Flemish doublet and hose, and an insuffer- 
ably tall hat, with a cocktail feather. Such 



B 1F3i6tor^ of mew l^orft 

was the patrooii Killian Van Rensellaer, who 
had come out from Holland to found a colony 
or patroonship on a great tract of wild land, 
granted to him by their High Mightinesses 
the lyords States-General, in the upper regions 
of the Hudson. 

Killian Van Rensellaer was a nine days’ 
wonder in New Amsterdam ; for he carried 
a high head, looked down upon the portly, 
short-legged burgomasters, and owned no al- 
legiance to the governor himself ; boasting 
that he held his patroonship directl}^ from the 
Lords States-General. 

He tarried but a short time in New Amster- 
dam, merely to beat up recruits for his colony. 

I Few, however, ventured to enlist for those 
remote and savage regions ; and when they 
embarked, their friends took leave of them as 
if they should never see them more, and stood 
gazing with tearful eye as the stout, round- 
sterned little vessel ploughed and splashed its 
way up the Hudson, with great noise and little 
progress, taking nearly a day to get out of 
sight of the city. 

And now, from time to time, floated down 
tidings to the Manhattoes of the growing im- 
portance of this new colony. Every account 
represented Killian Van Rensellaer as rising 
in importance and becoming a mighty patroon 

Ikillfan IDan IRcnecllacr 


in the land. He had received more recruits 
from Holland. His patroonship of Rensellaer- 
wick lay immediately below Fort Aurania, 
and extended for several miles on each side 
of the Hudson, beside embracing the moun- 
tainous region of the Helderberg. Over all 
this he claimed to hold separate jurisdiction, 
independent of the colonial authorities of New 

All these assumptions of authority were 
duly reported to Governor Van Twiller and 
his council, by despatches from Fort Aurania ; 
at each new report the governor and his coun- 
sellors looked at each other, raised their eye- 
brows, gave an extra puff or two of smoke, 
and then relapsed into their usual tranquillity. 

At length tidings came that the patroon of 
Rensellaerwick had extended his usurpations 
along the river, beyond the limits granted him 
by their High Mightinesses ; and that he had 
even seized upon a rocky island in the Hud- 
son, commonly known by the name of Bearn 
or Bear’s Island, where he was erecting a 
fortress, to be called by the lordly name of 

Wouter Van Twiller was roused by this in- 
telligence. After consulting with his burgo- 
masters, he despatched a letter to the patroon 
of Rensellaerwick, demanding b}^ what right 

B Ibistorg ot IRevv 

he had seized upon this island, which lay 
beyond the bounds of his patroonship. The 
answer of Killian Van Rensellaer was in his 
own lordly style, “ wape7i I'echt!'' — that 
is to say, by the right of arms, or, in common 
parlance, by club-law. This answer plunged 
the worthy Wouter in one of the deepest 
doubts he had in the whole course of his 
administration ; in the meantime, while Wouter 
doubted, the lordly Killian went on to finish 
his fortress of Rensellaerstein, about which I 
foresee I shall have something to record in a 
future chapter of this most eventful histor>\ 

N the year of our Lord one 
thousand eight hundred 
and four, on a fine after- 
noon in the glowing month 
of September, I took my 
customary walk upon the 
Batter}^ which is at once 
the pride and bulwark of 
this ancient and impreg- 
nable city of New York. 
The ground on which I 
trod was hallowed by rec- 
ollections of the past ; and 
as I slowly wandered through the long alley 
of poplars, which, like so many birch brooms 
standing on end, diffused a melanchol}^ and 
lugubrious shade, my imagination drew a con- 
trast between the surrounding scenery^ and 
what it was in the classic days of our fore- 

B Ibistor^ of IRew l^ork 

fathers. Where the government house by 
name, but the custom-house by occupation, 
proudly reared its brick walls and wooden 
pillars, there whilom stood the low, but sub- 
stantial, red- tiled mansion of the renowned 
Wouter Van T wilier. Around it the mighty 
bulwarks of Fort Amsterdam frowned defiance 
to every absent foe : but, like many a whisk- 
ered warrior and gallant militia captain, con- 
firmed their martial deeds to frowns alone. 
The mud breastworks had long been levelled 
with the earth, and their site converted into 
the green lawns and leafy alleys of the Battery ; 
where the gay apprentice sported his Sunday 
coat, and the laborious mechanic, relieved 
from the dirt and drudgery of the week, poured 
his weekly tale of love into the half-averted ear 
of the sentimental chambermaid. The capa- 
cious bay still presented the same expansive 
sheet ot water, studded with islands, sprinkled 
with fishing-boats, and bounded bv shores of 
picturesque beauty. But the dark forests 
which once clothed those shores had been vio- 
lated by the savage hand of cultivation, and 
their tangled mazes, and impenetrable thickets, 
had degenerated into teeming orchards and 
waving fields of grain. Even Governor’s 
Island, once a smiling garden, appertaining to 
the sovereigns of the province, was now 

Zbc :f6attere 

covered with fortifications, inclosing a tremen- 
dous block-house, so that this once peaceful 
island resembled a fierce little warrior in a big 
cocked hat, breathing gun-powder and defiance 
to the world ! 

For some time did I indulge in a pensive 
train of thought ; contrasting, in sober sadness. 


the present da^" with the hallowed years behind 
the mountains ; lamenting the melancholy 
progress of improvement, and praising the zeal 
with which our worthy burghers endeavored 
to preserve the wrecks of venerable customs, 
prejudices, and errors from the overwhelming 
tide of modern innovation, — when, by degrees, 
my ideas took a different turn, and I insensibly 

28o B Ibietori? of IRevv l^orh 

awakened to an enjoyment of the beauties 
around me. 

It was one of those rich autumnal days 
which heaven particularly bestows upon the 
beauteous island of Manna-hata and its vicinity 
— not a floating cloud obscured the azure firma- 
i ment, — the sun, rolling in glorious splendor 
through his ethereal^ course, seemed to expand 
his honest Dutch countenance into an unusual 
expression of benevolence, as he smiled his 
evening salutation upon a cit3' which he 
delights to visit with his most bounteous 
beams, — the ver}^ winds seemed to hold in their 
breaths in mute attention, lest they should ruffle 
I the tranquillity of the hour, — and the wave- 
: less bosom of the bay presented a polished 
mirror, in which nature beheld herself and 
smiled. The standard of our city, reserved like 
I a choice handkerchief, for days of gala, hung 
motionless on the flag-staff, which forms the 
handle of a gigantic churn ; and even the trem- 
ulous leaves of the poplar and the aspen ceased 
to vibrate to the breath of heaven. Everything 
seemed to acquiesce in the profound repose 
of nature. The formidable eighteen-pounders 
slept in the embrasures of the wooden batteries, 
seemingly gathering fresh strength to fight the 
battles of their country on the next fourth of 
July ; the solitary drum on Governor’s Island 


forgot to call the garrison to their shovels ; the 
evening gun had not yet sounded its signal for 
all the regular well meaning poultr}^ through- 
out the country to go to roost ; and the fleet of 
canoes, at anchor between Gibbet Island and 
Comniunipaw, slumbered on their rakes, and 
suffered the innocent oysters to lie for a while 
unmolested in the soft mud of their native 
banks ! My own feelings sympathized with the 
contagious tranquillity, and I should infallibly 
have dozed upon one of those fragments of 
benches, which our benevolent magistrates 
have provided for the benefit of convalescent 
loungers, had not the extraordinary inconven- 
ience of the couch set all repose at defiance. 

In the midst of this slumber of the soul, my 
attention was attracted to a black speck, peer- 
ing above the western horizon, just in the rear 
of Bergen steeple : gradually it augments and 
overhangs the would-be cities of Jersey, Har- 
simus, and Hoboken, which, like three jockeys, 
are starting on the course of existence, and 
jostling each other at the commencement of 
the race. Now it skirts the long shore of 
ancient Pavonia, spreading its wide shadows 
from the high settlements of Weehawk quite 
to the lazaretto and quarantine erected by the 
sagacity of our police, for the embarrassment 
of commerce ; now it climbs the serene vault 




of heaven, cloud rolling over cloud, shrouding 
the orb of day, darkening the vast expanse, 
and bearing thunder and hail and tempest in 
its bosom. The earth seems agitated at the 
confusion of the heavens ; the late waveless 
mirror is lashed into furious waves that roll 
in hollow murmurs to the shore ; the oyster- 
boats that erst sported in the placid vicinity 
of Gibbet Island, now hurry affrighted to the 
land ; the poplar writhes and twists and whis- 
tles in the blast ; torrents of drenching rain 
and sounding hail deluge the Battery walks ; 
the gates are thronged by apprentices, servant- 
maids, and little Frenchmen, with pocket- 
handkerchiefs over their hats, scampering from 
the storm ; the late beauteous prospect presents 
one scene of anarchy and wild uproar, as 
though old Chaos had resumed his reign, and 
was hurling back into one vast turmoil the 
conflicting elements of nature. 

Whether I fled from the fury of the storm, 
or remained boldly at my post, as our gallant 
train-band captains who march their soldiers 
through the rain without flinching, are points 
which I leave to the conjecture of the reader. 
It is possible he may be a little perplexed also 
to know the reason why I introduced this tre- 
mendous tempest to disturb the serenity of 
my work. On this latter point I will gratui- 




'Wllbg tbe Storm Came 283 1 


tously instruct his ignorance. The panorama 


I l\v% 

view of the Battery was given merely to gratify 1 


the reader with a correct description of that 


celebrated place and the parts adjacent; sec- 


' w\ 

ondly, the storm was played off, partly to give 

^ \ 


a little bustle and life to this tranquil part of 



111}' work, and to keep my drowsy readers from 







i 7 \ 

falling asleep, and partly to serve as an over- 
ture to the tempestuous times which are about 


to assail the pacific province of Nieuw Neder- 

landts, and which overhang the slumbrous 

7 i^ 

administration of the renowned Wouter Van 

p [) 


! Twiller. It is thus the experienced playwright 
puts all the fiddles, the French-horns, the 
kettle-drnms, and trumpets of his orchestra in 





B 1bi6tori2 of IRevv l^orF? 

requisition, to usher in one of those horrible 
and brimestone uproars called Melodrames, — 
and it is thus he discharges his thunder, his 
lightning, his rosin, and saltpetre, preparatory 
to the rising of a ghost or the murdering of a 
hero. We will now proceed with our history. 

Whatever ina}' be advanced by philosophers 
to the contrary, I am of opinion, that, as to na- 
tions, the old maxim, that “honesty is the best 
polic}^’’ is a .sheer and ruinous mistake. It 
might have answered well enough in the 
honest times when it was made ; but in these 
degenerate days, if a nation pretends to rely 
merely upon the ju.stice of its dealings, it will 
fare something like the honest man who fell 
among thieves, and found his honesty a poor 
protection against bad company. Such, at 
least, was the case with the guileless govern- 
ment of the New Netherlands ; which, like a 
worth}^ unsu.spicious old burgher, quietly set- 
tled itself down in the city of New Amsterdam, 
as into a snug elbow-chair, and fell into a 
comfortable nap, while, in the meantime, its 
cunning neighbors stepped in and picked its 
pockets. In a word, we may ascribe the com- 
mencement of all the woes of this great prov- 
ince, and its magnificent metropolis, to the 
tranquil security, or, to .speak more accurately, 

I to the unfortunate honesty of its government. 

L n ,. ,, ■ - 

H^onest^ Bot tbc JBest jpolicg 

But as I dislike to begin an important part of 
my histor}" towards the end of a chapter, and 
as my readers, like m3^self, must doubtless be 
exceedingly fatigued with the long walk we 
have taken, and the tempest we have sustained, 
I hold it meet we shut up the book, smoke 
a pipe, and, having thus refreshed our spirits, 
take a fair start in a new chapter. 

UmpenMng Galamltp 287 

certain national creed, a kind of public walk 
of faith, or rather a religious turnpike, in 
which every loyal subject was directed to travel 
to Zion, — taking care to pay the toll-gatherers 
by the way. 

Albeit a certain shrewd race of men, being 
very much given to indulge their own opinions 
on all manner of subjects (a propensity ex- 
ceedingly offensive to your free governments 
of Europe), did most presumptuously dare to 
think for themselves in matters of religion, 
exercising what they considered a natural and 
unextinguishable right — the liberty of con- 

As, however, they possessed that ingenuous 
habit of mind which always thinks aloud, 
which rides cock-a-hoop on the tongue, and is 
forever galloping into other people’s ears, it 
naturally followed that their liberty of con- 
science likewise implied liberty of speeeli, which 
being freely indulged, soon put the country in 
a hubbub, and aroused the pious indignation 
of the vigilant fathers of the Church. 

The usual methods were adopted to reclaim 
them, which in those days were considered 
efficacious in bringing back stray sheep to the 
fold ; that is to say, they were coaxed, they 
were admonished, they were menaced, they 
were buffeted, — line upon line, precept upon 

A S 

/ , , 


288 B 1bl6tor^ of IRevv l^ork 


'/ A 
r:' Y 

precept, lash upon lash, here a little and there 


a great deal, were exhorted without mercy and 
without success, — until the worthy pastors of 


• \ > 

the Church, wearied out by their unparalleled 
stubbornness, were driven, in the excess of 
their tender mercy, to adopt the Scripture text, ' 
and literally to “heap live embers on their 
heads.” , 

Nothing, however, could subdue that inde- 



pendence of the tongue which has ever distin- 
guished this singular race, so that, rather than 
subject that heroic member to further tyranny. 


’, \; 

they one and all embarked for the wilderness 

i yj 

of America, to enjoy, unmolested, the inestima- 

\ / / 

ble right of talking. And, in fact, no sooner 



did they land upon the shore of this free-spoken 

1 M 

country, than they all lifted up their voices, 


and made such a clamor of tongues, that we 
are told they frightened every bird and beast 
out of the neighborhood, and struck such mute 
terror into certain fish, that they have been 
called dumb-fish ever since. 


’ j ; 

This may appear marvellous, but it is never- 

V I® 

theless true ; in proof of which I would observe, 

that the dumb-fish has ever since become an 

' h 

object of superstitious reverence, and forms the 

1 /: 

Saturday’s dinner of every true Yankee. 

\/ / 

i The simple aborigines of the land for a while 

V- t 

contemplated these strange folk in utter aston- 

V\l ' 



'X^ ... 

^Tbe l^anbees 

ishment ; but discovering that they wielded 
harmless though noisy weapons, and were a 
lively, ingenious, good-humored race of men. 


they became very friendly and sociable, and 
gave them the name of Yanokies, which in the 
Mais-Tchusaeg (or Massachusetts) language 


B 1[3i0tor^ of IRevv ^ovk 

signifies sile7it — a waggish appellation, 

since shortened into the familiar epithet of 
Yankees, which they retain unto the present 

True it is, and my fidelity as an historian 
will not allow me to pass over the fact, that, 
having served a regular apprenticeship in the 
school of persecution, these ingenious people 
soon show’ed that they had become masters of 
the art. The great majority were of one par- 
ticular mode of thinking in matters of religion ; 
but, to their great surprise and indignation, 
they found that divers Papists, Quakers, and 
Anabaptists were springing up among them, 
and all claiming to use the liberty of speech. 
This was at once pronounced a daring abuse 
of the liberty of conscience, which they now 
insisted was nothing more than the liberty to 
think as one pleased in matters of religion — 
provided one thought right ; for otherwise it 
would be giving a latitude to damnable her- 
esies. Now as the}^ the majority, were con- 
vinced that they alone thought right, it 
consequently followed, that whoever thought 
different from them thought wrong, — and who- 
ever thought wrong, and obstinately persisted 
in not being convinced and converted, was a 
flagrant violator of the inestimable liberty of 
conscience, and a corrupt and infectious mem- 

TLbc lankeee 291 

ber of the body politic, and deserved to be 
lopped off and oast into the fire. The conse- 
quence of all which was a fiery persecution of 
divers sects, and especially of Quakers. 

Now I ’ll warrant there are hosts of my 
readers, ready at once to lift up their hands and 
eyes, with that virtuous indignation with 
which we contemplate the faults and errors of 
our neighbors, and to exclaim at the preposter- 
ous idea of convincing the mind by tormenting 
the body, and establishing the doctrine of 
charity and forbearance by intolerant persecu- 
tion. But in simple truth what are we doing 
at this very day, and in this very enlightened 
nation, but acting upon the very same princi- 
ple in our political controversies? Have we 
not within but a few years released ourselves 
from the shackles of a government which 
cruelly denied us the privilege of governing 
ourselves, and using in full latitude that inval- 
uable member, the tongue ? and are we not at 
this very moment striving our best to tyrannize 
over the opinions, tie up the tongues, and ruin 
the fortunes of one another? What are our 
great political societies, but mere political in- 
quisitions, — our pot-house committees, but little 
tribunals of denunciation, — our newspapers, 
but mere whipping-posts and pillories, where 
unfortunate individuals are pelted with rotten- 


B 1bi6tor)5 of IRew liorft 

eggs, — and our council of appointment, but a 
grand auto-da-fe, where culprits are annually 
sacrificed for their political heresies ? 

Where, then, is the difference in principle 
between our measures and those you are so 
ready to condemn among the people I am treat- 
ing of? There is none ; the difference is merely 
circumstantial. Thus we de^iounce, instead of 
banishing, — libel, instead of scourging, — we 
turji Old of office, instead of hanging, — and 
where they burnt an offender in proper person, 
we either tar and feather, or burn him in effigy, 
— this political persecution being, somehow or 
other, the grand palladium of our liberties, and 
an incontrovertible proof that this is a free 
country ! 

But notwithstanding the fervent zeal with 
which this holy war was prosecuted against 
the whole race of unbelievers, we do not find 
that the population of this new colony was in 
any wise hindered thereby ; on the contrary, 
they multiplied to a degree which would be 
incredible to any man unacquainted with the 
marv^ellous fecundity of this growing country. 

This amazing increase may, indeed, be partly 
ascribed to a singular custom prevalent among 
them, commonly known by the name of bund- 
ling, — a superstitious rite observed by the 
young people of both sexes, with which they 

^Tbe l^ankece 

usually terminated their festivities, and which 
was kept up with religious strictness by the 
more bigoted part of the community. This 
ceremony was likewise, in those primitive 
times, considered as an indispensable prelimi- 


nary to matrimony, their courtships commenc- 
ing where ours usually finish, — by which 
means they acquired that intimate acquaintance 
with each other’s good qualities before mar- 
riage, which has been pronounced by philoso- 
phers the sure basis of a happy union. Thus 


B Ibistor^ of IRevv liJorJ? 

early did this cunning and ingenious people 
display a shrewdness of making a bargain, 
which has ever since distinguished them, — and 
a strict adherence to the good old vulgar 
maxim about “ bu3dng a pig in a poke.” 

To this sagacious custom, therefore, do I 
chiefly attribute the unparalleled increase of 
the Yanokie or Yankee race ; for it is a certain 
fact, well authenticated by court records and 
parish registers, that, wherever the practice of 
bundling prevailed, there was an amazing 
number of sturdy brats annually born unto the 
State, without the licence of the law, or the 
beiieflt of clergy. Neither did the irregularity 
of their birth operate in the least to their dis- 
paragement. On the contrary, they grew up a 
long-sided, raw-boned, hard}^ race of whoreson 
whalers, wood-cutters, flsherman, and peddlers, 
and strapping corn- fed wenches, — who by their 
united efforts tended mar\^ellously towards 
peopling those notable tracts of country called 
Nantucket, Piscatawa}^ and Cape Cod. 


Cbapter ID1F1I1F 

HOW these singuear barbarians turned out to 
BE notorious squatters — HOW THEY BUIET AIR- 
castees, and attempted to initiate the NEDER- 


TT^ chapter I have 

^ given a faithful and un- 

prejudiced account of the 
origin of that singular 
race of people inhabiting 
country eastward of 
' Nieuw Nederlandts ; 

^ men- 

lion certain peculiar hab- 
' its which rendered them 

exceedingly annoying to 
■ ’ our ever-honored Dutch 


The most prominent of these was a certain 
rambling propensity, with which, like the sons 
of Ishmael, they seem to have been gifted by 
heaven, and which continually goads them on 
to shift their residence from place to place, so 


B Ibistor^ of mcvv l^ork 

that a Yankee farmer is in a constant state of 
migration, tarrying occasionally here and there, 
clearing lands for other people to enjoy, build- 
ing houses for others to inhabit, and in a man- 
ner may be considered the wandering Arab of 

His first thought, on coming to years of 
manhood, is to settle himself in the world, — 
which means nothing more nor less than to 
begin his rambles. To this end he takes unto 
himself for a wife some buxom country heir- 
ess, passing rich in red ribbons, glass beads, 
and mock tortoise-shell combs, with a white 
gown and morocco shoes for Sunday, and 
deeply skilled in the mystery of making apple- 
sweetmeats, long sauce, and pumpkin-pie. 

Having thus provided himself, like a ped- 
dler with a heavy knapsack, wherewith to re- 
gale his shoulders through the journey of life, 
he literally sets out on the peregrination. His 
whole family, household- furniture, and farm- 
ing utensils are hoisted into a covered cart, his 
own and his wife’s wardrobe packed up in 
a firkin, — which done, he shoulders his axe, 
takes staff in hand, whistles “Yankee Doodle,’’ 
and trudges off to the woods, as confident of 
the protection of Providence, and relying as 
cheerfully upon his own resources, as ever did 
a patriarch of yore when he journeyed into a 

of tbe L^ankees 297 

strange country of the Gentiles. Having 
buried himself in the wilderness, he builds 
himself a log hut, clears away a corn-field 
and potato patch, and. Providence smiling 
upon his labors, is soon surrounded by a snug 
farm and some half a score of flaxen-headed 
urchins, who, by their size, seem to have 
sprung all at once out of the earth, like a crop 
of toadstools. 

But it is not the nature of this most indefati- 
gable of speculators to rest contented with any 
state of sublunary enjoyment : improve me7it is 
his darling passion ; and having thus improved 
his lands, the next care is to provide a man- 
sion worthy the residence of a landholder. A 
huge palace of pine boards immediately springs 
up in the midst of the wilderness, large enough 
for a parish church, and furnished with windows 
of all dimensions, but so rickety and flimsy 
withal, that every blast gives it a fit of the 

By the time the outside of this mighty 
air-castle is completed, either the funds or the 
zeal of our adventurer is exhausted, so that he 
barely manages to furnish one room within, 
where the whole family burrow together, — 
while the rest of the house is devoted to the 
curing of pumpkins, or storing of carrots and 
potatoes, and is decorated with fanciful festoons 


B 1bistori5 of IRevv lock 

of dried apples and peaches. The outside, 
remaining unpainted, grows venerably black 
with time ; the family wardrobe is laid un- 
der contribution for old hats, petticoats, and 
breeches, to stuff into the broken windows, 
while the four winds of heaven keep up a 
whistling and howling about this aerial palace, 
and play as many unruly gambols as they did 
of yore in the cave of old ^olus. 

The humble log hut, which whilom nestled 
this improving family snugly within its narrow 
but comfortable walls, stands hard by, in igno- 
minious contrast, degraded into a cow-house 
or pig-sty ; and the whole scene reminds one 
forcibly of a fable, which I am surprised has 
never been recorded, of an aspiring snail, who 
abandoned his humble habitation, which he 
had long filled with great respectability, to 
crawl into the empty shell of a lobster, — where 
he would no doubt have resided with great 
style and splendor, the envy and the hate of 
all the painstaking snails in the neighborhood, 
had he not perished with cold in one corner of 
his stupendous mansion. 

Being thus completely settled, and, to use 
his own words, “to rights,” one would imag- 
ine that he would begin to enjoy the comforts 
of his situation, — to read newspapers, talk 
politics, neglect his own business, and attend 

l^anF^ce /llbannere 299 | 

to the affairs of the nation, like a useful and I 
patriotic citizen ; but now it is that his way- 
ward disposition begins again to operate. He 
soon grows tired of a spot where there is no 
longer any room for improvement, — sells his 
farm, air-castle, petticoat windows and all, re- 
loads his cart, shoulders his axe, puts himself 
at the head of his family, and wanders away 
in search of new lands, — again to fell trees, — 
again to clear corn-fields, — again to build a 
shingle palace, and again to sell off and wan- 
der. Such were the people of Connecticut, 
who bordered upon the eastern frontier of New 
Netherlands ; and my readers may easily imag- 
ine what uncomfortable neighbors this light- 1 
hearted but restless tribe must have been to 1 
our tranquil progenitors. If they cannot, I 
would ask them if they have ever known one 
of our regular, well-organized Dutch families, 
whom it hath pleased heaven to afflict with the 
neighborhood of a French boarding-house ? 
The honest old burgher cannot take his after- 
noon’s pipe on the bench before his door, but 
he is persecuted with the scraping of fiddles, | 
the chattering of women, and the squalling of ' 
children ; he cannot sleep at night for the j 
horrible melodies of some amateur, who chooses 
to serenade the moon, and display his terrible 
proficiency in execution, on the clarionet, haut- 

300 B Ibistov^ Of IRew ftiork 

boy, or some other soft- toned instrument ; nor 
can he leave the street-door open, but his house 
is defiled by the unsavory visits of a troop of 
pup-dogs, who even sometimes cariy' their 
loathsome ravages into the sanctum sanctorum^ 
the parlor ! 

If my readers have ever witnessed the suffer- 
ings of such a family, so situated, they may 
form some idea how our worthy ancestors were 
distressed by their mercurial neighbors of 

Gangs of these marauders, we are told, pene- 
trated into the New Netherland settlements, 
and threw whole villages into consternation by 
their unparalleled volubility and their intolera- 
' ble inquisitiveness, — two evil habits hitherto 
unknown in those parts, or only known to be 
abhorred ; for our ancestors were noted as being 
j men of truly Spartan taciturnity, and who 
' neither knew nor cared aught about anybody’s 
' concerns but their own. Many enormities 
were committed on the highways, where sev- 
eral unoffending burghers were brought to a 
stand, and tortured with questions and guesses, 
— which outrages occasioned as much vexation 
and heart-burning as does the modern right of 
I search on the high seas. 

' Great jealousy did they likewise stir up, b}^ 

; their intermeddling and successes among the 

divine sex ; for, being a race of brisk, likely, 
pleasant-tongued varlets, they soon seduced 
the light affections of the simple damsels from 
their ponderous Dutch gallants. Among other 
hideous customs, they attempted to introduce 
among them that of bundling, which the Dutch 
lasses of the Nederlandts, with that eager pas- 
sion for novelty and foreign fashions natural 
to their sex, seemed very well inclined to fol- 
low, but that their mothers, being more expe- 
rienced in the world, and better acquainted 
with men and things, strenuously discounte- 
nanced all such outlandish innovations. 

But what chiefly operated to embroil our 
ancestors with these strange folk, was an un- 
warrantable liberty which they occasionally 
took of entering in hordes into the territories 
of the New Netherlands, and settling them- 
selves down, without leave or licence, to 
improve the land, in the manner I have before 
noticed. This unceremonious mode of taking 
possession of new land was technically termed 
squatting, and hence is derived the appellation 
of squatters , — a name odious in the ears of all 
great land-holders, and which is given to those 
enterprising worthies who seize upon land first, 
and take their chance to make good their title 
to it afterwards. 

All these grievances, and many others which 

l^ankee /Hbanners 

were constantly accumulating, tended to form 
that dark and portentous cloud, which, as I 
observ^ed in a former chapter, was slowly gath- 
ering over the tranquil province of New 
Netherlands. The pacific cabinet of Van 
Twiller, however, as will be perceived in the 
sequel, bore them all with a magnanimity that 


redounds to their immortal credit, becoming 
by passive endurance inured to this increasing 
mass of wrongs, — like that mighty man of old, 
who, by dint of carrying about a calf from the 
time it was born, continued to carry it without 
difficulty when it had grown to be an ox. 

Chapter IFf. 


Y this time my readers 
must fully perceive 
what an arduous task I 
have undertaken, — ex- 
ploring a little kind of 
Herculaneum of history , 
which had lain nearly 
for ages buried under 
the rubbish of years, and almost totally forgot- 
ten, — raking up the limbs and fragments of 
disjointed facts, and endeavoring to put them 
scrupulously together, so as to restore them to 
their original form and connection, — now lug- 
ging forth the character of an almost forgotten 
hero, like a mutilated statue, now deciphering a 
half-defaced inscription, and now lighting upon 
a mouldering manuscript, which, after painful 
study scarce repays the trouble of perusal. 

/Ilbi66tatemcnt9 of 1bi9toriati0 • 305 



In such case, how much has the reader to 

depend upon the honor and probity of his 

author, lest, like a cunning antiquarian, he 

either impose upon him some spurious fabrica- 


tion of his own for a precious relic of antiquity, 

or else dress up the dismembered fragment with 
such false trappings, that it is scarcely possible 
to distinguish the truth from the fiction with 


which it is enveloped. This is a grievance 

li ^ 

which I have more than once had to lament, in 
the course of my wearisome researches among 



the works of ni}^ fellow-historians, who have 


strangely disguised and distorted the facts 

\ / / 

respecting this country ; and particularly 

k// ' 

respecting the great province of New Nether- 

lands ; as will be perceived by any who will 

take the trouble to compare their romantic 

effusions, tricked out in the meretricious gauds 

of fable, with this authentic history. 

I have had more vexations of the kind to 

/ // 

encounter, in those parts of my history which 

treat of the transactions on the eastern border. 

than in any other, in consequence of the troops 


of historians who have infested these quarters. 


and have shown the honest people of Nieuw 

Y \ i 

■y- 1 

Nederlandts no mercy in their works. Among 

4 - 7 ' 

the rest, Mr. Benjamin Trumbull arrogantly 



declares, that “ the Dutch were always mere 


intruders.” Now, to this I shall make no 


VOL. I —20 


// A A • 

3o6 b Ibietori? of IRew HJork 

other reply than to proceed in the steady nar- 
ration of my history, which will contain not 
only proofs that the Dutch had clear title and 
possession in the fair valleys of the Connecticut, 
and that they were wrongfully dispossessed 
thereof, but likewise, that they have been 
scandalously maltreated ever since by the 
misrepresentations of the crafty historians 
of New England. And in this I shall be 
guided by a spirit of truth and impartiality, 
and a regard to immortal fame ; for I would 
not wittingly dishonor my work by a single 
falsehood, misrepresentation, or prejudice, 
though it should gain our forefathers the 
whole country of New England. 

I have already noticed, in a former chapter 
of my history, that the territories of the Nieuw 
Nederlandts, extended on the east, quite to the 
Varsche or fresh, or Connecticut River. Here, 
at an early period, had been established a 
frontier post on the bank of the river, and 
called Fort Goed Hoop, not far from the site 
of the present fair city of Hartford. It was 
placed under the command of Jacobus Van 
Curlet, or Curbs, as some historians will have 
it, — a doughty soldier, of that stomachful class 
famous for eating all they kill. He was long 
in the body and short in the limb, as though a 
tall man’s body had been mounted on a little 



B 1bi6tori2 of IRcw 

man’s legs. He made up for this turnspit con- 
struction by striding to such an extent, that 
you would have sworn he had on the seven- 
leagued boots of Jack the Giant-killer ; and so 
high did he tread on parade, that his soldiers 
were sometimes alarmed lest he should trample 
hinivSelf under foot. 

But notwithstanding the erection of this fort, 
and the appointment of this ugly little man of 
war as commander, the Yankees continued the 
interlopings hinted at in my last chapter, and 
at length had the audacity to squat themselves 
down within the jurisdiction of Fort Goed 

The long-bodied Van Curlet protested with 
great spirit against these unwarrantable en- 
croachments, couching his protest in Low 
Dutch, by way of inspiring more terror, and 
forthwith despatched a copy of the protest to 
the governor at New Amsterdam, together 
with a long and bitter account of the aggres- 
sions of the enemy. This done, he ordered 
his men, one and all, to be of good cheer, 
shut the gate of the fort, smoked three pipes, 
went to bed, and awaited the result with a 
resolute and intrepid tranquillity, that greatly 
animated his adherents, and no doubt struck 
sore dismay and affright into the hearts of the 



' Q:be Dencrable' lt)an ^TwUicr 309 



Now it came to pass, that about this time 
the renowned Wouter Van Twiller, full of 

years and honors, and council-dinners, had 

f A' 

reached that period of life and faculty which. 

according to the great Gulliver, entitles a man 


to admission into the ancient order of Struld- 
bruggs. He employed his time in smoking his i 
i Turkish pipe, amid an assemblage of sages, | 


equally enlightened and nearly as venerable as 

vl ' 

himself, and who, for their silence, their gravity. 


^ V 

their wisdom, and their cautious averseness to 

T /T 

coming to any conclusion in business, are only 


u ' 

to be equalled by certain profound corporations 


which I have known in m}^ time. Upon read- 


ing the protest of the gallant Jacobus Van 

/ H 

Curlet, therefore, his excellency fell straight- 

way into one of the deepest doubts that ever he 
was known to encounter ; his capacious head 


gradually drooped on his chest, he closed his 
eyes, and inclined his ear to one side, as if lis- 
tening with great attention to the discussion 

A ' 

that was going on in his belly, — and which all 

who knew him declared to be the huge court- 

house or council-chamber of his thoughts. 


forming to his head what the house of repre- 

; / 4 

j sentatives does to the Senate. An inarticulate 

i A i 



77 \ 

sound, very much resembling a snore, occa- 


sionally escaped him ; but the nature of this 


internal cogitation was never known, as he 


/ '■! X 



B Ibistore of IRcw l^orl? 

never opened his lips on the subject to man, 
woman, or child. In the meantime, the 
protest of Van Curlet lay quietly on the table, 
where it served to light the pipes of the 
venerable sages assembled in council ; and 
in the great smoke which they raised, the 
gallant Jacobus, his protest, and his mighty 
Fort Goed Hoop were soon as completely be- 
clouded and forgotten as is a question of 
emergency swallowed up in the speeches and 
resolutions of a modern session of Congress. 

There are certain emergencies when your pro- 
found legislators and sage deliberative councils 
are mightily in the way of a nation, and when 
an ounce of hare-brained decision is worth a 
pound of sage doubt and cautious discussion. 
Such, at least, was the case at present ; for, 
while the renowned Wouter Van Twiller was 
daily battling with his doubts, and his reso- 
lution growing weaker and weaker in the con- 
test, the enemy pushed farther and farther into 
his territories, and assumed a most formidable 
appearance in the neighborhood of Fort Goed 
Hoop. Here they founded the mighty town 
of Pyquag, or, as it has since been called. 
Weather sfield, a place which, if we may credit 
the assertions of that worthy historian, John 
Josselyn, Gent., “ hath been infamous by rea- 
son of the witches therein. ’ ’ And so daring did 


to strengthen his redoubts, heighten his breast- 
works, deepen his fosse, and fortify his position 
with a double row of abatis ; after w^hich he 
despatched a fresh courier with accounts of his 
perilous situation. 

The courier chosen to bear the despatches 
was a fat, oily little man, as being less liable to 
be worn out, or to lose leather on the journey ; 
and to insure his speed, he was mounted on 
the fleetest wagon-horse in the garrison, 
remarkable for length of limb, largeness of 
bone, and hardness of trot, and so tall, that the 
little messenger was obliged to climb on his 
back by means of his tail and crupper. Such 
extraordinary speed did he make, that he 
arrived at Fort Amsterdam in a little less than 
a month, though the distance was full two hun- 
dred pipes, or about one hundred and twenty 

With an appearance of great hurry and 
business, and smoking a short travelling-pipe, 
he proceeded on a long swing-trot through the 
muddy lanes of the metropolis, demolishing 
whole batches of dirt pies, which the little 
Dutch children were making in the road ; and 
for which kind of pastry the children of this 
city have ever been famous. On arriving at the 
governor’s house he climbed down from his 
steed, roused the gray-headed door-keeper, old 

Arrival ot tbe Courier 

Skaats, who, like his lineal descendant and 
faithful representative, the venerable crier of 
our court, was nodding at his post, rattled at 
the door of the council-chamber, and startled 
the members as they were dozing over a plan 
for establishing a public market. 


At that very moment a gentle grunt, or 
rather a deep-drawn snore, was heard from the 
chair of the governor ; a whiff of smoke was 
at the same instant observed to escape from his 
lips, and a light cloud to ascend from the bowl 


B Ibistore of IRew l^orh 

of his pipe. The council, of course, supposed 
him engaged in deep sleep, for the good of the 
community, and, according to custom in all 
such cases established, every man bawled out 
silence, when, of a sudden, the door flew open, 
and the little courier straddled into the apart- 
ment, cased to the middle in a pair of Hessian 
boots, which he had got into for the sake of 
expedition. In his right hand he held forth 
the ominous despatches, and with his left he 
grasped firmly the waistband of his galligas- 
kins, which had unfortunately given way in 
the exertion of descending from his horse. 
He stumped resolutely up to the governor, 
and with more huriy" than perspicuity de- 
livered his message. But fortunately his ill 
tidings came too late to ruffle the tranquillity 
of this most tranquil of rulers. His venerable 
excellency had just breathed and smoked his 
last, — his lungs and his pipe having been ex- 
hausted together, and his peaceful soul having 
escaped in the last whiff that curled from his 
tobacco-pipe. In a word, the renowned Wal- 
ter the Doubter, who had so often slumbered 
with his contemporaries, now slept with his 
fathers, and Wilhelmus Kieft governed in his 

Chapter IF 


THEN the lofty Thucyd- 
about to enter 
▼ upon his description of 
the plague that deso- 
lated Athens, one of 
his modern conimenta- 
^Qj.g assures the reader, 
that the history is now going to be exceeding 
solemn, serious, and pathetic, and hints, with 
that air of chuckling gratulation with which a 
good dame draws forth a choice morsel from 
a cupboard to regale a favorite, that this 
plague will give his history a most agreeable 

In like manner did my heart leap within me, 
when I came to the dolorous dilemma of Fort 
Goed Hoop, which I at once perceived to be the 



3i8 b Ibietorg of IRcw J^ork 

forerunner of a series of great events and enter- 
taining disasters. Such are the true subjects 
for the historic pen. For what is history, in 
fact, but a kind of Newgate calendar, a register 
of the crimes and miseries that man has in- 
flicted on his fellowman ? It is a huge libel on 
human nature, to which we industriously add 
page after page, volume after volume, as if we 
were building up a monument to the honor, 
rather than the infamy of our species. If we 
turn over the pages of these chronicles that 
man has written of himself, what are the char- 
acters dignified by the appellation of great, 
and held up to the admiration of posterity? 
Tyrants, robbers, conquerors, renowned only 
for the magnitude of their misdeeds, and the 
stupendous wrongs and miseries they have in- 
flicted on mankind, — warriors, who have hired 
themselves to the trade of blood, not from mo- 
tives of virtuous patriotism, or to protect the 
injured and defenceless, but merely to gain the 
vaunted glory of being adroit and successful 
in massacring their fellow-beings ! What are 
the great events that constitute a glorious era ? 
— The fall of empires ; the desolation of happy 
countries ; splendid cities .smoking in their 
ruins ; the proudest works of art tumbled in 
the dust ; the shrieks and groans of whole 
nations ascending unto heaven ! 


B Ibistor^ of 1Rew l^ort? 

of nature, to trace the mutual dependencies 
of things, how they are created reciprocally 
for each other, and how the most noxious 
and apparently unnecessary animal has its 
uses. Thus those swarms of flies, which are so 
often execrated as useless vermin, are created 
for the sustenance of spiders ; and spiders, on 
the other hand, are evidently made to devour j 
flies. So those heroes, who have been such 
scourges to the world, were bounteously pro- 
vided as themes for the poet and historian, 
while the poet and the historian were destined 
to record the achievements of heroes ! 

These, and many similar reflections, natur- 
ally arose in my mind as I took up my pen to 
commence the reign of William Kieft : for now 
the stream of our history, which hitherto has | 
rolled in a tranquil current, is about to depart j 
forever from its peaceful haunts, and brawl i 
through many a turbulent and rugged scene. : 

As some sleek ox, sunk in the rich repose of 
a clover-fleld, dozing and chewing the cud, will ‘ 
bear repeated blows before it raises itself, so 
the province of Nieuw Nederlandts, having 
waxed fat under the drowsy reign of the 
Doubter, needed cuffs and kicks to rouse it into 
action. The reader will now witness the man- j 
ner in which a peaceful community advances i 
towards a state of war ; which is apt to be like 

the approach of a horse to a drum, with much 
prancing and little progress, and too often with 
the wrong end foremost. 

Wilhelmus Kieft, who in 1634 ascended 
the gubernatorial chair (to borrow a favorite 
though clumsy appellation of modern phrase- 
ologists), was of a lofty descent, his father being 
inspector of wind-mills in the ancient town of 
Saardam ; and our hero, we are told, when a 
boy, made very curious investigations into the 
nature and operation of these machines, which 
was one reason why he afterwards came to be 
so ingenious a governor. His name, according 
to the most authentic etymologists, was a cor- 
ruption of Kyver, that is to say, a wra 7 igler or 
scolder^ and expressed the characteristic of his 
family, which, for nearly two centuries, had 
kept the windy town of Saardam in hot water, 
and produced more tartars and brimstones than 
any ten families in the place ; and so truly did 
he inherit this family peculiarity, that he had 
not been a year in the government of the prov- 
ince, before he was universally denominated 
William the Testy. His appearance answered 
to his name. He was a brisk, wiry, waspish 
little old gentleman ; such a one as may now 
and then be seen stumping about our city in a 
broad-skirted coat with huge buttons, a cocked 
hat stuck on the back of his head, and a cane 

VOL. I. — 21 



¥ ~ 

f ' 


B 1bi6tor^ of IRew l^ork 

as high as his chin. His face was broad, but 
his features were sharp ; his cheeks were 
scorched into a dusky red by two fiery little 
gray eyes ; his nose turned up, and the corners 
of his mouth turned down, pretty much like 
the muzzle of an irritable pug-dog. 

I have heard it observed by a profound adept 
in human physiology, that if a woman waxes 
fat with the progress of years, her tenure of life 
is somewhat precarious, but if haply she 
withers as she grows old, she lives forever. 
Such promised to be the case with William the 
Testy, who grew tough in proportion as he 
dried. He had withered, in fact, not through 
the process of years, but through the tropical 
fervor of his soul, which burnt like a vehement 
rush-light in his bosom, inciting him to inces- 
sant broils and bickerings. Ancient traditions 
speak much of his learning, and of the gallant 
inroads he had made into the dead languages, 
in which he had made captive a host of Greek 
nouns and Latin verbs, and brought off rich 
booty in ancient saws and apothegms, which he 
was wont to parade in his public harangues, as 
a triumphant general of yore his spolia opima. 
Of metaphysics he knew enough to confound 
all hearers and himself into the bargain. In 
logic, he knew the whole family of syllogisms 
and dilemmas, and was so proud of his skill 




B Ibiatori^ of IRew loth 

that he never suffered even a self-evident fact to 
pass unargued. It was observed, however, that 
he seldom got into an argument without 
getting into a perplexit}^, and then into a pas- 
sion with his adversary for not being convinced 

He had, moreover, skirmished smartly on 
the frontiers of several of the sciences, was 
fond of experimental philosophy, and prided 
himself upon inventions of all kinds. His 
abode, which he had fixed at a Bowerie or 
country-seat at a short distance from the city, 
just at what is now called Dutch Street, soon 
abounded with proofs of his ingenuity : patent 
smoke-jacks that required a horse to work 
them ; Dutch ovens that roasted meat without 
fire ; carts that went before the horses ; weather- 
cocks that turned against the wind ; and other 
wrong-headed contrivances that astonished and 
confounded all beholders. The house, too, was 
beset with paralytic cats and dogs, the subjects 
of his experimental philosophy ; and the yelling 
and yelping of the latter unhappy victims of sci- 
ence, while aiding in the pursuit of knowledge, 
soon gained for the place the name of “ Dog’s 
Misery,” by which it continues to be known 
at the present day. 

It is in knowledge as in swimming ; he who 
flounders and splashes on the surface makes 



TUnivcreal 0cniu9 


more noise, and attracts more attention, than 
the pearl-diver who quietly dives in quest of 
treasures at the bottom. The vast acquire- 
ments of the new governor were the theme 
of marvel among the simple burghers of New 
Amsterdam ; he figured about the place as 
learned a man as a Bonze at Pekin, who has 
mastered one half of the Chinese alphabet, and 
was unanimously pronounced a “ universal 
genius ? ’ ’ 

I have known in my time many a genius of 
this stamp ; but, to speak my mind freely, I 
never knew one who, for the ordinary purposes 
of life, was worth his weight in straw. In 
this respect, a little sound judgment and plain 
common-sense is worth all the sparkling genius 
that ever wrote poetry or invented theories. 
Let us see how the universal acquirements of 
William the Testy aided him in the affairs of 

Chapter n. 


U O sooner had this bustling 
K little potentate been blown 
Bf by a whilf of fortune into 
'P the seat of^ government 
than he called his council 
together to make them a 
speech on the state of 

Caius Gracchus, it is 

said, when he harangued the Roman populace, 
modulated his tone by an oratorical flute or 
pitch-pipe ; Wilhelmus Kieft, not having such 
an instrument at hand, availed himself of that 
musical organ or trump which nature has im- 
planted in the midst of a man’s face : in other 
words, he preluded his address by a sonorous 
blast of the nose, — a preliminary flourish much 
in vogue among public orators. 

He then commenced by expressing his hum- 


ble sense of his utter unworthiness of the high 
post to which he had been appointed ; which 
made some of the simple burghers wonder why 
he undertook it, not knowing that it is a 
point of etiquette with a public orator never to 
enter upon a public office without declaring 
himself unworthy to cross the threshold. He 
then proceeded in a manner highly classic and 
erudite to speak of government generally, and 
of the governments of ancient Greece in particu- 
lar, together with the wars of Rome and Car- 
thage, and the rise and fall of sundry outlandish 
empires which the worthy burghers had never 
read nor heard of. Having thus, after the 
manner of your learned orator, treated things 
in general, he came, by a natural, roundabout 
transition, to the matter in hand, namely, the 
daring aggressions of the Yankees. 

As my readers are well aware of the advan- 
tage a potentate has in handling his enemies as 
he pleases in his speeches and bulletins, where 
he has the talk all on his own side, they may 
rest assured that William the Testy did not let 
such an opportunity escape of giving the 
Yankees what is called ‘ ‘ a taste of his quality. ’ ’ 
In speaking of their inroads into the territories 
of their High Mightinesses, he compared them 
to the Gauls who desolated Rome, the Goths 
and Vandals who overran the fairest plains of 


B 1bi6tori5 of IRew l^ork 

Europe ; but when he came to speak of the 
unparalleled audacity with which they of 
Weathersfield had advanced their patches up 
to the ver}" walls of Fort Goed Hoop, and 
threatened to smother the garrison in onions, 
tears of rage started into his eyes, as though 
he nosed the very offence in question. 

Having thus wrought up his tale to a climax, 
he assumed a most belligerent look, and 
assured the council that he had devised an in- 
strument, potent in its effects, and which he 
trusted would soon drive the Yankees from the 
land. So saying, he thrust his hand into one 
of the deep pockets of his broad-skirted coat 
and drew forth, not an infernal machine, but an 
instrument in writing, which he laid with great 
emphasis upon the table. 

The burghers gazed at it for a time in silent 
awe, as a wary housewife does at a gun, fearful 
it may go off half-cocked. The document in 
question had a sinister look, it is true ; it was 
crabbed in text, and from a broad red ribbon 
dangled the great seal of the province, about 
the size of a buckwheat pancake. Still, after 
all, it was but an instrument in writing. 
Herein, however, existed the wonder of the 
invention. The document in question was a 
Proclamation, ordering the Yankees to 
depart instantly from the territories of their 

B IFlew /lRoC)e of (Sovernmcnt 

High Mightinesses, under pain of suffering all 
the forfeitures and punishments in such a case 
made and provided. In was on the moral 
effect of this formidable instrument that 
Wilhelmus Kieft calculated, pledging his valor 
as a governor that, once fulminated against the 


Yankees, it would, in less than two months, 
drive every mother’s son of them across the 

The council broke up in perfect wonder ; and 
nothing was talked of for some time among the 
old men and women of New Amsterdam but 
the vast genius of the governor, and his new 
and cheap mode of fighting by proclamation. 


B 1bi0tori2 of IRew lock 

As to Wilhelmus Kieft, having despatched 
his proclamation to the frontiers, he put on his 
cocked hat and corduroy small-clothes, and 
mounting a tall raw-boned charger, trotted out 
to his rural retreat of Dog’s Misery. Here, like 
the good Numa, he reposed from the toils of 
state, taking lessons in government, not from 
the nymph Egeria, but from the honored wife 
of his bosom ; who was one of that class of 
females sent upon the earth a little after the 
flood, as a punishment for the sins of mankind, 
and commonly known by the appellation of 
blowing women. In fact, my duty as an his- 
torian obliges me to make known a circum- 
stance which was a great secret at the time, 
and consequently was not a subject of scandal 
at more than half the tea-tables in New Am- 
sterdam, but which, like many other great 
secrets, has leaked out in the lapse of years, — 
and this was, that Wilhelmus the Testy, 
though one of the most potent little men that 
ever breathed, yet submitted at home to a 
species of government, neither laid down in 
Aristotle nor Plato ; in short, it partook of the 
nature of a pure, unmixed tyranny, and is 
familiarly denominated petticoat government — 
an absolute sway, which, although exceed- 
ingly common in these modern days, was very 
rare among the ancients, if we may judge from 

Ipctttcoat (3overnment 

the rout made about the domestic economy of 
honest Socrates ; which is the only ancient case 
on record. 

The great Kieft, however, warded off all the 
sneers and sarcasms of his particular friends, 
who are ever ready to joke with a man on sore 
points of the kind, by alleging that it was a 
government of his own election, to which he 
submitted through choice, adding at the same 
time a profound maxim which he had found in 
an ancient author, that ‘ ‘ he who would aspire 
to goverji^ should first learn to obey'' 



A ruder of universae genius — the art of 


[EVER was a more compre- 
hensive, a more expedi- 
tious, or, what is still 
better, a more economical 
measure devised, than this 
of defeating the Yankees 
by proclamation, — an ex- 
pedient, likewise, so gentle 
and humane, there were 
ten chances to one in favor of its succeeding ; but 
then there was one chance to ten that it would 
not succeed, — as the ill-natured fates would 
have it, that single chance carried the day ! 
The proclamation was perfect in all its parts, 
well constructed, well written, well sealed, and 
well published ; all that was wanting to insure 
its effect was, that the Y ankees should stand in 

Zbc l^ankeee' Bncroacbmcnts 

awe of it ; but, provoking to relate, they treated 
it with the most absolute contempt, applied it 
to an unseemly purpose ; and thus did the first 
warlike proclamation come to a shameful end, 
— a fate which I am credibly informed has 
befallen but too many of its successors. 


So far from abandoning the country, those 
varlets continued their encroachments, squat- 
ting along the green banks of the Varsche 
River, and founding Hartford, Stamford, New 
Haven, and other border-towns. I have 
already shown how the onion patches of Pyquag 


B Ibietor^ of Mew l^ork 

were an eye-sore to Jacobus Van Curlet and 
his garrison ; but now these moss-troopers 
increased in their atrocities, kidnapping hogs, 
impounding horses, and sometimes grievously 
rib-roasting their owners. Our worthy fore- 
fathers could scarcely stir abroad without 
danger of being out-jockeyed in horse-flesh, or 
taken in in bargaining ; while, in their absence, 
some daring Yankee peddler would penetrate 
to their household, and nearly ruin the good 
housewives with tin ware and wooden bowls.* 

I am well aware of the perils which environ 
me in this part of my history. While raking 
with curious hand but pious heart, among the 
mouldering remains of former days, anxious 
to draw therefrom the honey of wisdom, I ma}" 
fare somewhat like that valiant worthy, Sam- 
son, who, in meddling with the carcass of a 

* The following cases in point appear in Hazard’s 
Collection of State Papers. 

“ In the meantime, they of Hartford have not onely 
usurped and taken in the lands of Connecticott, 
although unrighteously and against the lawes of na- 
tions but have hindered our nation in sowing theire 
own purchased broken up lands, but have also sowed 
them with come in the night, which the Nederlan- 
ders had broken up and intended to sowe : and have 
beaten the servants of the high and mighty the 
honored companie, which were laboring upon theire 
master’s lands, from theire lands, with sticks and 

^be Yankees* JEncroacbments 


^ dead lion, drew a swarm of bees about his ears. 

! Thus, while narrating the many misdeeds of 
' the Yanokie or Yankee race, it is ten chances 
to one but I offend the morbid sensibilities of 
certain of their unreasonable descendants, who 
' may fly out and raise such a buzzing about 
this unlucky head of mine, that I shall need 
the tough hide of an Achilles, or an Orlando 
Furioso, to protect me from their stings. 

Should such be the case, I should deeply 
and sincerely lament, — not my misfortune in 
giving offence, but the wrong-headed per- 
verseness of an ill-natured generation, in 
' taking offence at anything I say. That their 
ancestors did use my ancestors ill is true, and 
I am very sorry for it. I would, with all my 
heart, the fact were otherwise ; but as I am 
recording the sacred events of history, I ’d not 

plow staves iu hostile manner laming, and among the 
rest, struck Ever Duckings [Evert Duyekink] a hole 
in his head, with a stick, so that the bloode ran downe 
1 very strongly downe upon his body.” 

“Those of Hartford sold a hogg, that belonged to 
the honored companie, under pretence that he had 
eaten of theire grouude grass, when they had not any 
foot of inheritance. They proffered the hogg for 55. I 
if the commissioners would have given 55. for 
damage ; which the commissioners denied, because 
noe man’s own hogg (as men used to say) can trespass 
upon his owne master’s grounde.” 


B 1bi6tori2 of IRew |)orh 

bate one nail’s breadth of the honest truth, 
though I were sure the whole edition of m3" 
work would be bought up and burnt by the 
common hangman of Connecticut. And in 
sooth, now that these testy gentlemen have 
drawn me out, I will make bold to go further, 
and observe that this is one of the grand pur- 
poses for which we impartial historians are 
sent into the world, to redress wrongs and 
render justice on the heads of the guilt3". So 
that, though a powerful nation may wrong its 
neighbors with temporary impunity, 3^et sooner 
or later an historian springs up, who wreaks 
ample chastisement on it in return. 

Thus these moss-troopers of the east little 
thought, I ’ll warrant it, while they were 
harassing the inoffensive province of Nieuw 
Nederlandts, and driving its unhappy gov- 
ernor to his wit’s end, that an historian would 
ever arise, and give them their own, with 
interest. Since, then, I am but performing 
my bounden duty as an historian, in avenging 
the wrongs of our revered ancestors, I shall 
make no further apology ; and, indeed, when 
I it is considered that I have all these ancient 
borderers of the east in my power, and at 
the mercy of my pen, I trust that it will be 
admitted I conduct myself with great humanity 
and moderation. 


It was long before William the Testy could 
be persuaded that his much- vaunted war- 
measure was ineffectual ; on the contrary, he 
flew in a passion whenever it was doubted, 
swearing that, though slow in operation, yet 
when it once began to work, it would soon 
purge the land of these invaders. When con- 
vinced' at length, of the truth, like a shrewd 
physician he attributed the failure to the 
quantity, not the quality of the medicine, and 
resolved to double the dose. He fulminated, 
therefore, a second proclamation, more vehe- 
ment than the first, forbidding all intercourse 
with these Yankee intruders, ordering the 
Dutch burghers on the frontiers to buy none 
of their pacing horses, measly pork, apple- 
sweetmeats, Weathersfield onions, or wooden 
bowls, and to furnish them with no supplies 
of gin, gingerbread, or sourkrout. 

Another interval elapsed, during which the 
last proclamation was as little regarded as the 
first ; and the non-intercourse was especially 
set at naught by the young folks of both 
sexes, if we may judge by the active bundling 
which took place along the borders. 

At length, one day the inhabitants of New 
Amsterdam were aroused by a furious barking 
of dogs, great and small, and beheld, to their 
surprise, the whole garrison of Fort Goed 


B 1f3i0tor^ of IRew l^ork 

Hoop straggling into town all tattered and 
wayworn, with Jacobus Van Curlet at their 
head, bringing the melancholy intelligence 
of the capture of Fort Goed Hoop by the 

The fate of this important fortress is an 
impressive warning to all military command- 
ers. It was neither carried by storm nor 
famine ; nor was it undermined ; nor bom- 
barded ; nor set on fire by red-hot shot ; but 
was taken by a stratagem no less singular than 
effectual, and which can never fail of success, 
whenever an opportunity occurs of putting it 
in practice. 

It seems that the Yankees had received in- 
telligence that the garrison of Jacobus Van 
Curlet had been reduced nearly one eighth by 
the death of two of his most corpulent soldiers, 
who had overeaten themselves on fat salmon 
caught in the Varsche River. A secret expedi- 
tion was immediately set on foot to surprise 
the fortress. The crafty enemy, knowing the 
habits of the garrison to sleep soundly after 
they had eaten their dinners and smoked their 
pipes, stole upon them at the noontide of a 
sultry summer’s day, and surprised them in the 
midst of their slumbers. 

In an instant the flag of their High Mighti- 
nesses was lowered, and the Yankee standard 


B Ibtstor^ of IRew ll?orh 

elevated in its stead, being a dried codfish, by 
way of a spread eagle. A strong garrison was 
appointed, of long-sided, hard-fisted Yankees, 
with Weathersfield onions for cockades and 
feathers. As to Jacobus Van Curlet and his 
men, they were seized by the nape of the 
neck, conducted to the gate, and one by one 
dismissed by a kick in the crupper, as Charles 
XII. dismissed the heavy-bottomed Russians 
at the battle of Narva; Jacobus Van Curlet 
receiving two kicks in consideration of his 
official dignity. 

Chapter Hit). 


testy, and the AEARM of new AMSTERDAM — 


ANGUAGE cannot ex- 
press the awful ire of 
William the Testy on 
hearing of the catastro- 
phe at Fort Goed Hoop. 
For three good hours 
his rage was too great 
for words, or rather the 

I words were too great for him (being a very 
small man), and he was nearly choked by the 
misshapen, nine-cornered Dutch oaths and 
epithets which crowded at once into his gullet. 
At length his words found vent, and for three 
days he kept up a constant discharge, anathe- 
matizing the Yankees, man, woman, and child. 

twistzoekeren, blaes-kaken, loosen-sclialken, 
kakken-bedden, and a thousand other names, 
of which, unfortunately for posterity, history 
does not mention. Finally, he swore that he 
would have nothing more to do with such a 
squatting, bundling, guessing, questioning, 
swapping, pumpkin-eating, molasses-daubing, 
shingle-splitting, cider-watering, horse-jockey- 
ing, notion-peddling crew ; that they might 
stay at Fort Goed Hoop and rot, before he 
would dirty his hands by attempting to drive 
them away : in proof of which he ordered the 
new-raised troops to be marched forthwith into 
winter-quarters, although it was not as yet 
quite midsummer. Great despondency now 
fell upon the city of New Amsterdam. It was 
feared that the conquerors of Fort Goed Hoop, 
flushed with victory and apple-brandy, might 
march on to the capital, take it by storm, and 
annex the whole province to Connecticut. The 
name of Yankee became as terrible among the 
Nieuw Nederlanders as was that of Gaul among 
the ancient Romans ; insomuch that the good 
wives of the Manhattoes used it as a bugbear 
wherewith to frighten their unruly children. 

Everybody clamored around the governor, 
imploring him to put the city in a complete 
posture of defence ; and he listened to their 
clamors. Nobody could accuse William the 

Maiime preparations 

Testy of being idle in time of danger, or at any 
other time. He was never idle, but then he 
was often busy to very little purpose. When a 
youngling, he had been impressed with the 
words of Solomon, “ Go to the ant, thou slug- 
gard, observe her ways and be wise ” ; in con- 
formity to which he had ever been of a restless, 
ant-like turn, hurrying hither and thither, 
nobody knew why or wherefore, busying him- 
self about small matters with an air of great 
importance and anxiety, and toiling at a grain of 
mustard-seed in the full conviction that he was 
moving a mountain. In the present instance, 
he called in all his inventive powers to his 
aid, and was continually pondering over plans, 
making diagrams, and worrying about with a 
troop of workmen and projectors at his heels. 
At length, after a world of consultation and 
contrivance, his plans of defence ended in rear- 
ing a great flag-staff in the centre of the fort, 
and perching a wind-mill on each bastion. 

These warlike preparations in some measure 
allayed the public alarm, especially after an 
additional means of securing the safety of the 
city had been suggested by the governor’s 
lady. It has already been hinted in this most 
authentic history, that in the domestic establish- 
ment of William the Testy ‘ ‘ the gray mare 
was the better horse ” ; in other words, that 


B Ibistor^ ot IRcvv lI)or{? 

his wife “ruled the roast,” and in governing 
the governor, governed the province, which 
might thus be said to be under petticoat gov- 

Now it came to pass, that about this time 
there lived in Manhattoes a jolly, robustious 
trumpeter, named Antony Van Corlear, famous 
for his long wind ; and who, as the story goes, 
could twang so potently upon his instrument, 
that the effect upon all within hearing was like 
that ascribed to the Scotch bagpipe when it 
sings right lustily i’ the nose. 

This sounder of brass was moreover a lusU' 
bachelor, with a pleasant, burly visage, a long 
nose, and huge whiskers. He had his little 
bozverie, or retreat, in the country, where he led 
a roistering life, giving dances to the wives and 
daughters of the burghers of the Manhattoes, 
insomuch that he became a prodigious favorite 
with all the women, young and old. He is 
said to have been the first to collect that 
famous toll levied on the fair sex at Kissing 
Bridge, on the highway to Hellgate.* 

To this sturdy bachelor the eyes of all the 

*The bridge here mentioned by Mr. Knickerbocker 
still exists ; but it is said that the toll is seldom col- 
lected nowadays, excepting on sleighing parties, by 
the descendants of the patriarchs, who still preserve 
the traditions of the citv. 


Bntong Dan Corlear 


women were turned in this time of darkness 
and peril, as the very man to second and 
carry out the plans of defence of the gov- 
ernor. A kind of petticoat council was forth- 
with held at the government house, at which 
the governor’s lady presided ; and this lady, 
as has been hinted, being all potent with the 
governor, the result of these councils was the 
elevation of Antony the Trumpeter to the post 
of commandant of wind-mills and champion 
of New Amsterdam. 

The city being thus fortified and garrisoned, 
it would have done one’s heart good to .see the 
governor snapping his fingers and fidgeting 
with delight, as the trumpeter strutted up and 
down the ramparts, twanging defiance to the 
whole Yankee race, as does a modern editor to 
all the principalities and powers on the other 
side of the Atlantic. In the hands of Antony 
Van Corlear this windy instrument appeared 
to him as potent as the horn of the paladin 
Astolpho, or even the more classic horn of 
Alecto ; nay, he had almost the temerity to 
compare it with the rams’ horns celebrated in 
Holy Writ, at the very sound of which the 
walls of Jericho fell down. 

Be all this as it may, the apprehensions of 
hostilities from the east gradually died away. 
The Yankees made no further invasion ; nay. 



B Ibietori? of IRew l^orft 

they declared that they had only taken pOvSses- 
sion of Fort Goed Hoop as being erected 
within their territories. So far from manifest- 
ing hostility, they continued to throng to New 
Amsterdam with the most innocent counte- 
nances imaginable, filling the market with 
their notions, being as ready to trade with the 
Nederlanders as ever, and not a whit more 
prone to get to the windward of them in a 

The old wives of the Manhattoes, who took 
tea with the governor’s lady, attributed all this 
affected moderation to the awe inspired by the 
military preparations of the governor, and the 
wind}" prowess of Antony the Trumpeter. 

There were not wanting illiberal minds, 
however, who sneered at the governor for 
thinking to defend his city as he governed it, 
by mere wind ; but William Kieft was not to 
be jeered out of his wind-mills : he had seen 
them perched upon the ramparts of his native 
city of Saardam, and was persuaded they were 
connected with the great science of defence ; 
nay, so much piqued was he by having them 
made a matter of ridicule, that he introduced 
them into the arms of the city, where they 
remain to this day, quartered with the ancient 
beaver of the Manhattoes, an emblem and 
memento of his policy. 

I must not omit to mention that certain wise 
old burghers of the Manhattoes, skilful in 
expounding signs and mj^steries, after events 
have come to pass, consider this early intrusion 
of the wind-mill into the escutcheon of our 
city, which before had been wholly occupied 
by the beaver, as portentous of its after for- 
tune, when the quiet Dutchman would be 
elbowed aside by the enterprising Yankee, and 
patient industry overtopped by windy specu- 


Cbapter D. 


MONO the wrecks and 
fragments of exalted wis- 
dom, which have floated 
down the stream of time 
from venerable antiquity, 
and been picked up by 
those humble but indus- 
trious wights who ply 
along the shores of litera- 
ture, we find a shrewd 
ordinance of Charondas 


^ the Locrian legislator. 
Anxious to preserve the j udicial code of the State 
from the additions and amendments of country 
members and seekers of popularity, he ordained 
that, whoever proposed a new law, should do it 
with a halter about his neck ; whereby, in case 
his proposition were rejected, they just hung 
him up — and there the matter ended, 


B Ibietor^ of IWcw l^orf? 

The effect was, that for more than two hun- 
dred years there was but one trifling alteration 
in the j udicial code ; and legal matters were so 
clear and .simple that the whole race of lawyers 
starved to death for want of employment. The 
Locrians, too, being freed from all incitement 
to litigation, lived ver}^ lovingly together, and 
were so happy a people that they make scarce 
any figure in history ; it being only your liti- 
gious, quarrelsome, rantipole nations who 
make much noise in the world. 

I have been reminded of these historical facts 
incoming to treat of the internal policy of Wil- 
liam the Testy. Well would it have been for 
him had he in the course of his universal ac- 
quirements stumbled upon the precaution of 
the good Charondas, or had he looked nearer 
home at the protectorate of Oloffe the Dreamer, 
when the community was governed without 
laws. Such legislation, however, was not 
suited to the busy, meddling mind of William 
the Testy. On the contrary, he conceived that 
the true wisdom of legislation consisted in the 
multiplicity of laws. He accordingly had 
great punishments for great crimes, and little 
punishments for little offences. By degrees the 
whole surface of society was cut up by ditches 
and fences, and quickset hedges of the law, and 
even the sequestered paths of private life so 

■ffntcrnal jpoUc^ 

beset by petty rules and ordinances, too num- 
erous to be remembered, that one could scarce 
walk at large without the risk of letting off a 
spring-gun or falling into a man-trap. 

In a little while the blessings of innumerable 
laws became apparent ; a class of men arose to 
expound and confound them. Petty courts 
were instituted to take cognizance of petty 
offences, pettifoggers began to abound ; and 
the community was soon set together by the 

Let me not be thought as intending anything 
derogatory to the profession of the law, or to 
the distinguished members of that illustrious 
order. Well am I aware that we have in this 
ancient city innumerable worthy gentlemen, 
the knights-errant of modern days, who go 
about redressing wrongs and defending the 
defenceless, not for the love of filthy lucre, nor 
the selfish cravings of renown, but merely for 
the pleasure of doing good. Sooner would I 
throw this trusty pen into the flames, and cork 
up my ink-bottle forever, than infringe even 
for a nail’s breadth upon the dignity of these 
truly benevolent champions of the distressed. 
On the contrary, I allude merely to those caitiff 
scouts who, in these latter days of evil, infest 
the skirts of the profession, as did the recreant 
Cornish knights of yore the honorable order of 


B Ibistor^ of IRew l^orf? 

chivalry, — who, under its auspices, commit 
flagrant wrongs, — who thrive by quibbles, by 
quirks and chicanery, and like vermin increase 
the corruption in which they are engendered. 

Nothing so soon awakes the malevolent 
passions as the facilit}^ of gratification. The 
courts of law would never be so crowded with 
pett3q vexatious, and disgraceful suits, were it 
not for the herds of pettifoggers. These tam- 
per with the passions of the poorer and more 
ignorant classes, who, as if poverty were not a 
sufficient misery in itself, are ever ready to 
imbitter it by litigation. These, like quacks 
in medicine, excite the malady to profit by the 
cure, and retard the cure to augment the fees. 
As the quack exhausts the constitution, the 
pettifogger exhausts the purse ; and as he who 
has once been under the hands of a quack is for- 
ever after prone to dabble in drugs, and poison 
himself with infallible prescriptions, so the client 
of the pettifogger is ever after prone to embroil 
himself with his neighbors, and impoverish 
himself with successful lawsuits. My readers 
will excuse this digression into which I have 
been unwarily betrayed ; but I could not avoid 
giving a cool and unprejudiced account of an 
abomination too prevalent in this excellent 
city, and with the effects of which I am rue- 
fully acquainted : having been nearly ruined 


Zbc Cr^incj Sin of {poverty 

by a lawsuit which was decided against me ; 
and my ruin having been completed by another, 
which was decided in my favor. 

To return to our theme. There was nothing 
in the whole range of moral offences against 
which the jurisprudence of William the Testy 
was more strenuously directed than the crying 
sin of poverty. He pronounced it the root of 
all evil, and determined to cut it up, root and 
branch, and extirpate it from the land. He had 
been struck, in the course of his travels in the 
old countries of Europe, with the wisdom of 
those notices posted up in country towns, that 
“any vagrant found begging there would be 
put in the stocks,” and he had observed that 
no beggars were to be seen in these neighbor- 
hoods ; having doubtless thrown off their rags 
and their poverty, and become rich under the 
terror of the law. He determined to improve 
upon this hint. In a little while a new 
machine, of his own invention, was erected 
hard by Dog’s Misery. This was nothing 
more nor less than a gibbet, of a very strange, 
uncouth, and unmatchable construction, far 
more efficacious, as he boasted, than the stocks, 
for the punishment of poverty. It was for 
altitude not a whit inferior to that of Haman 
so renowned in Bible history ; but the marvel 
of the contrivance was, that the culprit, instead 


B Ibistors of IRcw lock 

of being suspended b}^ the neck, according to 
venerable custom, was hoisted by the waistband, 
and kept dangling and sprawling between 
heaven and earth for an hour or two at a time 
— to the infinite entertainment and edification 
of the respectable citizens who usually attend 
exhibitions of the kind. 

It is incredible how the little governor 
chuckled at beholding caitiff vagrants and 
sturdy beggars thus swinging by the crupper, 
and cutting antic gambols in the air. He had 
a thousand pleasantries and mirthful conceits 
to utter upon these occasions. He called them 
his dandlelions — his wild-fowl — his high-fliers 
— his spread-eagles — his goshawks — his scare- 
crows — and finally, his gallows-birds ; which 
ingenious appellation, though originally con- 
fined to worthies who had taken the air in this 
strange manner, has since grown to be a cant 
name given to all candidates for legal eleva- 
tion. This punishment, moreover, if we may 
credit the assertions of certain grave etymolo- 
gists, gave the first hint for a kind of harness- 
ing, or strapping, by which our forefathers 
braced up their multifarious breeches, and 
which has of late years been revived, and con- 
tinues to be worn at the present day. 

Such was the punishment of all petty delin- 
quents, vagrants, and beggars and others 

Chapter M. 

YANKEES — the great OYSTER WAR. 

EXT to his projects for the 
suppression of poverty 
may be classed those of 
William the Testy for 
increasing the wealth of 
New Amsterdam. Solo- 
mon, of whose character 
for wisdom the little gov- 
ernor was somewhat emu- 
lous, had made gold and 
silver as plenty as the 
stones in the streets of Jerusalem. William 
Kieft could not pretend to vie with himx as to the 
precious metals, but he determined, as an equi- 
valent, to flood the streets of New Amsterdam 
with Indian money. This was nothing more 
nor less than strings of beads wrought of clams, 
periwinkles, and other shell-fish, and called 
seawant or wampum. These had formed a 

i i- 

native currency among the simple savages, 
who were content to take them of the Dutch- 
men in exchange for peltries. In an unlucky 
moment, William the Testy, seeing this money 
of easy production, conceived the project of 
making it the current coin of the province. 
It is true it had an intrinsic value among the 
Indians, who used it to ornament their robes 
and moccasins, but among the honest burgh- 
ers it had no more intrinsic value than those 
rags which form the paper currency of modern 
days. This consideration, however, had no 
weight with William Kieft. He began by 
paying all the servants of the company, and all 
the debts of government, in strings of wampum. 
He sent emissaries to sweep the shores of 
Tong Island, which was the Ophir of this 
modern Solomon, and abounded in shell-fish. 
These were transported in loads to New Am- 
sterdam, coined into Indian money, and 
launched into circulation. 

And now, for a time, affairs went on swim- 
mingly ; money became as plentiful as in the 
modern days of paper currency, and, to use 
the popular phrase, ‘ ‘ a wonderful impulse was 
given to public prosperity.” Yankee traders 
poured into the province, buying everything 
they could lay their hands on, and paying the 
worthy Dutchmen their own price — in Indian 


. 0 ^ 

B mew Currency 

money. If the latter, however, attempted to 
pay the Yankees in the same coin for their tin 
ware and wooden bowls, the case was altered ; 
nothing would do but Dutch guilders and such 
like ‘ ‘ metallic currency. ’ ’ What was wonse, 
the Yankees introduced an inferior kind of 
watnpum made of oyster-shells, with which 
they deluged the province, carr^dng oif in 
exchange all the silver and gold, the Dutch 
herrings, and Dutch cheeses : thus earl)" did 
the knowing men of the east manifest their 
skill in bargaining the New Amsterdammers 
out of the oyster, and leaving them the shell.* 

It was a long time before William the Testy 
was made sensible how completely his grand 
project of finance was turned against him by 
his eastern neighbors ; nor would he probably 
have ever found it out, had not tidings been 
brought him that the Yankees had made a 
descent upon Long Island, and had established 

* In a manuscript record of the province, dated, 
1659, Library of the New York Historical Society, is 
the following mention of Indian money : 

Seawant alias wampum. Beads manufactured 
from the Quahaug or wilk : a shell-fish formerly 
abounding on our coasts, but lately of more rare 
occurrence, of two colors, black and white ; the former 
twice the value of the latter. Six beads of the white 
and three of the black for an English penny. The 
seawant depreciates from time to time. The New- 

' V 


21 1bl6tor^ ot IRevv ^ovk 

a kind of mint at Oyster Bay, where they were 
coining up all the oyster-banks. 

Now this was making a vital attack upon 
the province in a double sense, financial and 
gastronomical. Ever since the council- dinner 
of Oloffe the Dreamer at the founding of New 
Amsterdam, at which banquet the oyster fig- 
ured so conspicuously, this divine shell-fish has 
been held in a kind of superstitious reverence 
at the Manhattoes ; as witness the temples 
erected to its cult in every street and lane and 
alley. In fact, it is the standard luxury of 
the place, as is the terrapin at Philadelphia, 
the soft crab at Baltimore, or the canvas-back 
at Washington. 

The seizure of Oyster Bay, therefore, was an 
outrage not merely on the pockets, but the 
larders of the New Amsterdammers ; the whole 
community was aroused, and an oyster crusade 
was immediately set on foot against the Yan- 

England people make use of it as a means of barter, 
not only to carry away the best cargoes which we send 
thither, but to accumulate a large quantity of beavers 
and other furs ; by which the company is defrauded of 
her revenues, and the merchants disappointed in mak- 
ing returns with that speed with which they might 
wish to meet their engagements ; while their com- 
missioners and the inhabitants remain overstocked 
with seawant, — a sort of currency of no value except 
with the New Netherland savages, etc.” 

^be Great Ouster Mar 


kees. Every stout trencherman hastened to 
the standard ; nay, some of the most corpulent 
burgomasters and schepens joined the expedi- 
tion as a corps de reserve, only to be called into 
action when the sacking commenced. 

The conduct of the expedition was intrusted 
to a valiant Dutchman, who for size and weight 
might have matched with Colbrand the Danish 
champion, slain by Guy of Warwick. He was 
famous throughout the province for strength 
of arm and skill at quarter-staff, and hence 
was named Stoffel Brinkerhoflf, or rather Brin- 
kerhoofd, that is to say Stoffel, the head- 

This sturdy commander, who was a man of 
few words but vigorous deeds, led his troops 
resolutely on through Nineveh, and Babylon, 
and Jericho, and Patch-hog, and other Long 
Island towns, without encountering aii}^ diffi- 
culty of note ; though it is said that some of 
the burgomasters gave out at Hardscramble 
Hill and Hungry Hollow, and that others lost 
heart and turned back at Pusspanick. With 
the rest he made good his march until he 
arrived in the neighborhood of Oyster Bay. 

Here he was encountered by a host of 
Yankee warriors, headed by Preserved Fish, 
and Habakkuk Nutter, and Return Strong, 
and Zerubabbel Fisk, and Determined Cock ! 

362 % IbiBtorK? of IRcvv 

at the sound of whose names Stoffel Brin- 
kerhoff verily believed the whole parliament 
of Praise-God Barebones had been let loose 
upon him. He soon found, however, that 
they were merely the ‘ ‘ selectmen ’ • of the 
settlement, armed with no weapon but the 
tongue, and disposed only to meet him on the 
field of argument. Stoffel had but one mode 
of arguing, that was, with the cudgel ; but he 
used it with such effect that he routed his 
antagonists, broke up the settlement, and 
would have driven the inhabitants into the 
sea if they had not managed to escape across 
the Sound to the mainland by the Devil’s 
stepping-stones, which remain to this day 
monuments of this great Dutch victory over 
the Yankees. 

Stoffel Brinkerhoff made great spoil of oys- 
ters and clams, coined and uncoined, and 
then set out on his return to the Manhattoes. 
A grand triumph, after the manner of the 
ancients, was prepared for him by William the 
Testy. He entered new Amsterdam as a 
conqueror, mounted on a Narraganset pacer. 
Five dried codfish on poles, standards taken 
from the enemy, were borne before him, and 
an immense store of oysters and clams, Weath- 
ersfield onions, and Yankee “notions” formed 
the spolia opinia ; while several coiners of 

B Ifoistor^ of IRew 

oyster-shells were led captive to grace the 
hero’s triumph. 

The procession was accompanied by a full 
band of boys and negroes, performing on the 
popular instruments of rattle-bones and clam- 
shells, while Antony Van Corlear sounded his 
trumpet from the ramparts. 

A great banquet was served up in the stadt- 
house from the clams and oysters taken from 
the enem}^ ; while the governor sent the shells 
privately to the mint, and had them coined 
into Indian money, with which he paid his 

It is moreover said that the governor, calling 
to mind the practice among the ancients to 
honor their victorious general with public 
statutes, passed a magnanimous decree, by 





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DEMCO 38-297